News Story

District Refuses to Sell Unused Building to Public Charter School — Despite Receiving $250K Asking Price

Battle Creek Public Schools pays tens of thousands of dollars per year to maintain empty school

Battle Creek Public Schools turned down an offer of $250,000 for a closed school building that came from a charter public school.

Ron Hutchinson, CEO of The Foundation for Behavioral Resources, said the Augusta-based nonprofit was looking to open a charter elementary school and had offered to pay BCPS its full asking price for the former Southwestern Middle School. Battle Creek pulled the building off the market after receiving the charter school's bid.

The Foundation for Behavioral Resources decided to buy property in Kalamazoo instead, according to Tim Wood, the special assistant to the president for charter schools at Grand Valley State University — which authorized the charter school.

“They’ve given up on that Battle Creek location,” Wood said.

The decision to not sell the property has angered some in the community, especially since it has been closed since 2006.

A letter to the editor in the Battle Creek Enquirer from resident Brian Dukeman accused the district of not wanting to sell the property to the charter school for fear it would make them look bad if the school outperformed the conventional public schools “in your back yard.” Dukeman questioned how much it would cost to tear the school down.

The district stated it received an initial offer of $150,000 from The Foundation for Behavioral Resources and another offer of $195,000 from the First Salem Missionary Baptist Church. Hutchinson said his group increased its second bid to $250,000.

Battle Creek Public Schools Superintendent Linda Hicks said Tuesday in an email the decision with what to do with their property hasn’t been put on the agenda yet.

“We should be putting the information together so that we are able to discuss shortly,” Hicks wrote.

The district is still paying to maintain the property. Information received through a Freedom of Information Act request shows the district paid $36,833 in 2010 and $28,210 in 2011 to maintain the property.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.