Saturday, September 18, 2010

High School Enrollment in the Flint Area

Does anyone have any insight into the strange enrollment shifts at Flint high schools?

- Northern had 997 students in 2009. Now it's up to 1,507.
- Southwestern had 1500 students in 2008. Now it's dipped to just 658.
- Northwestern had 540 students in 2006. Now it's at 1,219.

We know that the overall trend is for fewer high school students in Flint as the population drops. And we know that when Central closed last year it had around 900 students, and those that didn't graduate had to go somewhere. But it appears that very few of them went to Southwestern. Was that intentional?

Then there's Powers, with just 598 students, and Beecher with only 400.

If the trends continue, Flint clearly has one public high school in its future. It would work now if the school district had the right facility.

Here's some background info on enrollment from a March 29, 2009 post:
It's difficult for many Flint Expatriates who haven't been back in a while to realize just how much the city has changed over the years. Some basic numbers from the Flint Community Schools Facilities Advisory Committee Report reveal that the school-age population has disappeared along with the G.M. jobs.

When G.M. employment peaked at approximately 80,000 jobs in 1968, Flint schools (K-12) had 46,557 students.

By the fall of 2008, there were just 14,056 students.

Enrollment is projected to dip to 10,432 students by the fall of 2013. That's a 78% decline since 1968. It means that there will only be about 2,500 high-school students in the entire district.

So why is the city agonizing over whether to close Central or Southwestern? With numbers this low and the budget problems that come with plummeting enrollment, shouldn't the city opt for a single high school for Flint?

The enrollment would still be small compared to the biggest high schools in the country, which tend to be more efficient and offer more classes and programs. Here's a list of the largest high schools by enrollment:

1. Belmont -- Los Angeles 5,299

1. Elizabeth -- Elizabeth, N.J. 5,299

3. Fremont -- Los Angeles 5,083

4. South Gate -- South Gate, Calif. 5,020

5. Roosevelt -- Los Angeles 4,940

6. Monroe -- North Hills, Calif. 4,881

7. Los Angeles -- Los Angeles 4,876

8. Bell -- Bell, Calif. 4,855

9. Garfield -- Los Angeles 4,844

10. Lynwood -- Lynwood, Calif. 4,818

11. Long Beach Polytechnic -- Long Beach, Calif. 4,779

12. Judson -- Converse, Tex. 4,778

13. Sachem -- Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y. 4,718

14. Fort Hamilton -- Brooklyn, N.Y. 4,679

15. Felix Varela -- Miami 4,655

16. San Fernando -- San Fernando, Calif. 4,602

17. G. Holmes Braddock -- Miami 4,598

18. Huntington Park -- Huntington Park, Calif. 4,577

19. Marshall -- Los Angeles 4,550

20. Lane Technical -- Chicago 4,527

21. North Hollywood -- North Hollywood, Calif. 4,509

22. John F. Kennedy -- Bronx, N.Y. 4,422

23. Barbara Goleman -- Miami 4,417

24. Wilson -- Long Beach 4,383

25. Robinson Secondary -- Fairfax County 4,378


  1. The reason that they all shifted to Flint Northern and Flint Northwestern is because they are going to school closer to home now. Or their families financial situation is even worse and they are now living farther north.

  2. Another reason is that the Flint Schools of Choice was closed as a separate location and enveloped into Northwestern, I believe. And, you are correct, the increases in enrollment occurred when Central students relocated to the other high schools.

  3. Flint SW is an academy that by application only, it also houses the IB Classical Academy (another application only school) not sure if the figure includes those students. FYI Classical has some of the best test scores in the state. Just a little something you won't see on the news.

  4. Would someone explain to me what an "Academy" is? And why Southwestern Academy, which once had 2500-2750 Grades 10-12 students, and students gave false addresses in order to attend, now just has 658 students? I'd say that some students went to Powers, but then there's just 598 there. How have they made Southwestern so unattractive, if they have some choice of where to go?

  5. Forgot about Schools of Choice closing, which means another beautiful school — the old St. Mike's — is now likely to be boarded up, although I'm not sure what the parish has planned for it.

    I'm sure there's some play in these numbers, but they add up to 2,844 public high school students in Flint, which indicates the advisory committee's estimate of only 2,500 high schoolers by 2013 may actually be a little optimistic. Given that it's unlikely that Flint's depopulation trend is going to reverse itself, it won't be that long before Flint has less than 2,000 high school students. I'm just wondering if the school board is planning for this eventuality.

    And I hate the thought of closing schools. I'm just being realistic. This seems like a looming issue that should probably be addressed now. Given that the board refused to sell Central or Southwestern to Powers, it's hard to know what they're thinking is on the issue. It just can't be cost effective to have three schools with so few students.

  6. By the way, the Flint Board of Education lists 12 administrative staff members on its website. Along with the 9 members of the B of E.

  7. Thank you, Anonymous 1:30 PM, for answering part of my questions. What are the application and selection criteria for Flint Southwestern Academy? What kind of students are they looking for? I'm surprised that with Vera Perry (SWHS 1970) as school board President (the last I knew anyway), she wouldn't have some input with the school board as to making it more mainstream and increasing enrollment.

  8. Was there ever a reason given by the Flint Board of Education as to why they refused to sell one of the schools to the Catholic Diocese? Seems like the city fathers and mothers would want to have an explanation. Is it the competitive factor really. I know this has been kicked around on this blog already,but I don't remember if a reason was expressed.

  9. Can anyone help us out here. I hunted around and never found a reason that the B of E turned down Powers, just that they said no.

  10. Gordie, St. Mike's School is indeed all boarded up now. There was a note in our bulletin yesterday that apparently they had tried to get Mott to buy the building but they declined but now the pastor is going to see if Catholic Charities is interested in the building. This article was in the Flint Journal back in June.

  11. I hate to be the downer here, but I wonder how much longer before Central High School is torched like Homedale was. I know Central is a little out of the "burn Zone" that seems to exist these days on the Eastside, but there are not too many more landmarks left over there to burn.

  12. Sadly, I was thinking the same thing earlier. The Flint Board of Education seems hell bent on letting their nice old buildings rot, instead of selling them to entities that will use them.

  13. What I want to know is why Burton is served by so many school districts? Bently, Bendle, Atherton, and Keasley...what is up with that? Just as too many high schools in a single district must be cost ineffective, so too must too many school districts in a single city.

  14. Here's an interesting link to click on county maps of Michigan School Districts.,1607,7-158-52927_53037_12540_13084-100538--,00.html

  15. Burton is unique in that it was only incorporated as a city in 1972. With it being a township prior to that, many districts were included inside it. The residents of Atherton, Bentley and Bendle turned down consolidation a few years ago, and it seems unlikely that they will merge anytime soon. On top of those districts, small parts of Davison, Grand Blanc and Kearsley jut into the city of Burton. With the latter three looking down their noses at the much smaller, and less wealthy all-Burton districts, I don't think that Burton will ever have one all-city school district.


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