Southfield Public Schools announces bond proposal

Measure seeks to right-size district by closing facilities, improving others, officials say

By: Andy Kozlowski | Southfield Sun | Published August 11, 2022

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SOUTHFIELD —  A capital facilities bond has been proposed for the Southfield Public Schools that aims to right-size the district by closing and demolishing underutilized sites, while improving facilities and programming at the buildings that remain.

The bond proposal, which will be on the ballot in the general election Nov. 8, will be the first bond issue the district has seen in 20 years. The proposal is for a 3.26 mill increase that would generate $345 million over a period of 30 years. Officials estimate that the typical Southfield homeowner would pay about 93 cents per day, which is $339.45 per year. One mill is a tax of $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value on a home. The estimate is based on an average home price of $200,000 with a state equalized value of $100,000. A calculator will be made available on the district’s website,, for homeowners to determine their specific amounts.

“The bond proposal is an investment in our students, our schools and community,” SPS Board President Ashanti Bland said in a statement.

With the bond revenue, the district plans to demolish several sites that are set to be closed and sold at dates yet to be determined.

Buildings planned for closure include McIntyre Elementary School, Vandenberg Elementary School and the Magnolia Center. The Southfield Regional Academic Center is also planned to be closed, and serve as a transition site during the construction phase.

The district has previously closed facilities such as the MacArthur Early Childhood Center — formerly known as Bussey — closed prior to the 2020 school year; Schoenhals Elementary School, which closed prior to the 2017 school year; Leonhard Elementary School, which closed at the end of the 2011 school year; Eisenhower Elementary School, which closed during the 2011 school year; and Brace-Lederle Middle School, which closed at the end of the 2017 school year.

When all’s said and done, the district will consist of the Bussey Center for Early Childhood, Adler Elementary School (serving K-5), Stevenson Elementary School (K-5), the McIntyre facility (repurposed for student and community use), Birney K-8 School, Thompson K-8 School, Kennedy Learning Center (serving special education students), Levey Middle School, Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology, University K-12 Academy (by application), and the John English Administrative Center and Transportation Center.   

The intent is to right-size the school district to match its current student enrollment so that the district will only maintain facilities that support its educational programs. The revenue from the sale of the closed facilities will help support district operations.

During the past six years, enrollment has dropped from 6,000 to 4,700 students. In the early 2000s, enrollment was between 8,000 and 9,000 students. Originally, the district was built to educate 16,000.

A number of changes at the remaining buildings would also result from the bond, if approved.

Jennifer Martin-Green, the superintendent, explained that one goal is to transition from neighborhood schools to programming focuses called “Educational Pathways.” As an example, Thompson K-8 School is currently a world language school, and with this bond, its language and cultural exploration opportunities would be expanded. At Birney K-8 School, the focus would be on fine arts and performing arts.

Stevenson Elementary, Adler Elementary and Levey Middle School would continue to have a STEAM focus — science, technology, engineering, arts and math — while the Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology would expand its programming for fine arts, performing arts and technology. University K-12 Academy will continue to focus on gifted and talented programming with more opportunities for career exploration through community partnerships.

To accommodate these things, there would also be renovations. The facility for Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology was built in 1962 and was last updated more than 20 years ago. The bond would allow the district to demolish a portion of the school while rebuilding other areas, with improvements such as new classrooms, restrooms and support spaces, and enhanced security systems.

Expanded community use of school facilities is another planned use of the bond money.

“Based on the feedback we’ve received from Southfield residents, the McIntyre facility located on the University K-12 Academy campus will be redesigned to provide community members with access to meeting rooms, gym areas, and specialized program offerings aligned with community interests,” Green said in an email.

Many of the ideas implemented in the bond proposal were sourced from staff and parents who provided feedback. Officials said a recurring theme was the importance of creating a learning environment to support the educational program. Other requests were improvements to address each facility’s interior and exterior needs, including updates to heating and cooling, energy efficiency, flexible learning spaces, restrooms, athletic facilities, and security.

“Voter approval of the Capital Facilities Bond Proposal will affect every Southfield student, school facility and community member,” Bland stated. “In short, we can continue moving Southfield Public Schools forward and protect the investment our community has made in our schools.”

The district will hold presentations with more information on the bond proposal at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 9 and Aug. 23 at Southfield High Schools for the Arts and Technology, 24675 Lahser Road. There will also be virtual presentations at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16 and Aug. 30. Visit for meeting links.