Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Flint High Schools Struggle on the Gridiron

Last August I lamented the decline of Flint's public high school football programs — see the stats below — and things actually seem to be getting worse. As the 2010 season wraps up, Flint schools were a combined 5-22, with the Northern Vikings accounting for all the wins:

Northwestern 0-9
Southwestern 0-9
Northern 5-4

Even Powers Catholic, which has a .677 winning percentage dating back to 1970, only managed to eke out a single win against Northwestern.

I've said this before, but it would be nice if Flint consolidated into a single public high school. The demographics will force it to happen sooner or later. (Flint is expected to have fewer than 2,500 high school students by 2013.) It would be cheaper and provide a better education to Flint high school students. And it would probably produce a competitive football team as an added bonus.

Here's the post from August 2009:

With the start of the high school football season yesterday, it's hard not to notice that one of the casualties of Flint's shrinking population and economic malaise has been the success of the city's public school teams.

Flint Northwestern: By going 5-4 last year, the Wildcats posted their first winning season since 1984. During that run, the team had five 0-9 seasons. Northwestern beat Southwestern in this year's season opener, 32-6.

Flint Southwestern: In the last twenty years, the Colts haven't had a single winning season and have a combined 39-150 record.

Flint Northern: The Vikings last winning season was in 2001. The school has an 8-55 record over the last eight seasons.

Flint Central: After an impressive 11-1 season in 1993, the Indians/Phoenix had 10 losing seasons out of 15 with a combined record of 53-75. In their final season last year, Central went 3-6.

I can't help thinking what a great team the city would have if Flint had a single Class A high school for its approximately 2,700 students. An enrollment, by the way, that's getting smaller every year. But this isn't just about sports. Studies show that students have more academic resources in bigger schools, which are cheaper to run. And there are plenty of good high schools around the country with much larger enrollments. As painful as it was to lose Central, the city should probably close two more schools.


  1. Not sure about SWA. The Knights were highly ranked last year or the year before when two of their players were arrested for burglary.

    Its not just football either. City basketball teams are slipping too.

  2. My God! I cant believe those records. I am out of the loop, but I had no idea it was that bad. This info really makes my heart sink. At one time those schools (pick any one) could have beat any school in this state. When I went to Central, the enrollment there was bigger than that whole total. The Flint school district was a showplace of academia when I came home from the service. Interns were in Flint from all over the US and other countries, checking out our system shortly thereafter. I guess, when I left Flint thirty five years ago, it would never get in this condition. I'm so sorry. unclebuck

  3. Or better yet, find the money to build a new Flint High School on the Central/Whittier/College and Cultural Center campus, and close everything else.

    It's fundamentally logical that a combined high school should be located centrally, and should have immediate access to the county's best support resources.

    Maybe if local leaders could think cooperatively for once, they also could consider entering into contracts to build one or more satellite buildings for long-term lease, for use as other-than-public high schools in physical proximity to the public high school. Even more student concentration would mean even more opportunities to offer a full range of electives and activities on a combined-planning basis, with core subjects taught separately.

  4. Yes, the site of Central High, with additional buildings and rehab, would be the obvious location for Flint's lone high school. After getting a sense of the school board during the recent school closings, that will NEVER happen.

  5. Per discussions during the closing of Central, that building has to come down. It's too old, code noncompliant, oak framed, etc. Presumably, ditto for Whittier. So it'd be a clear field.

    There's been considerable discussion that Powers would like to move at least somewhat southward, closer to the geometric center of home locations of their typical student body. It's been said that Powers might be able to raise a chunk of money toward that goal. Maybe that could go into a combined project fund, on the premise that they'd get their own building on the campus.

    The new public high school, instead of being New Central or Flint, might be Mott High. Maybe that would help to pique the interest of the Mott Foundation, and they would kick in some capital funding...particularly toward a concept that might have some potential to move Flint back in the education-resource-leadership direction.

    I don't know where the rest of the money might come from. The FBOE is poor, and so is the City. The peripheral cities and townships would want to stick to their own public high schools.

    I doubt if the Feds would have any money available for school physical facilities, but it might be worth initiating a discussion with Dale Kildee's office. He used to teach at Central, of course, and he has a ton of seniority.

  6. Building a new high school and naming it after the Mott's is a great idea. Let the legacy of the FLint school rest and build a new powerhouse named after the family and foundation that has helped Flint more than anything.

  7. Now that the city is creating so much green space, a new high school near UM-Flint or Kettering should also be considered. However, until a strong leader emerges on the state's worst school board - the decline will continue.

  8. Central is already on the College and Cultural Center near Mott Community College. Perhaps it should instead be at Southwestern and part of the remodeling of MSD for Powers, which is part of the Kettering to I-69 Corridor.

  9. Please no more talk about tearing down the Central High School building. It would make a great law school or dormitory for Flint U of M, or a dozen other things that would build upon the appealing character of the College/Cultural Center area. Flint just can't lose it.

    A new high school makes no sense to me, especially since the functional viability and structural condition studies that were done a few years ago relative to the existing high school buildings gave the Northern campus good grades.

    If a new facility were built, I think the Chevy in the hole area is the place to be. It's not only a relatively centralized location, but it could become a physically synergetic academic riverfront connection between Kettering and Flint U of M, and there's plenty of room for athletic facilities, etc., assuming the brown fields can be addressed.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at