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Reconfiguring Mothballed Urban Schools as Family Resource Centers

Macomb County, MI
Program Year: 2016

Urban school districts in our county suffered falling enrollment due to the recession and other factors. They closed and mothballed schools as a result. Those schools provided no community benefit, but generated continuing costs to keep the buildings minimally secure and functional. Simultaneously, families in those districts experienced recession-driven increased needs for services. We perceived in these circumstances both a need and an opportunity. Beginning in 2014 we partnered with school districts in areas of highest need to reconfigure one school in each district as a Family Resource Center (FRC), with the county and the district (in some cases) sharing renovation costs. We then relocated and co-located a number of the county’s public health, family and early childhood education, and emergency-need programs to the FRC’s, instituting multi-lingual signage and new procedures to serve clients better. Rather than charging the county market-rate lease costs, circa $10-15/square foot, the districts leased the property at just their costs to provide utility and maintenance services – approximately $2/square foot. Thousands of services have been provided to residents in the first year of operation, with significant cost savings to both parties.

Mr. Steve Gold
Director of Health and Human Services