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Highland Park Schools

January 18, 2012 by staff 

Highland Park Schools, Clarence Monroe Burton, William Stocking and Gordon K. Miller | Public DomainHighland Park Ford Plant in 1922.
Back in the day, Highland Park was once what we’d refer to now as a “precious jewel” among municipalities, but those days are far gone.

Two things come to mind when I think of the evolution of Highland Park in the last decade. One, a high school teacher once told me that — her words — “Highland Park is going to explode” because of its lack of a fully functioning fire department. Second, when a Rally’s opened in town after years of slow business, the city held a parade down Woodward Avenue.

Worse came to worst years ago for Highland Park, but talks of consolidating its school district, only one piece of the puzzle, with Hamtramck or Detroit are just now cropping up.

Detroit News, January 17: A report from an independent review team for Highland Parks Schools made one thing clear: The district cannot survive as a standalone entity.

“These kids are going to have to go to school somewhere. It’s a question of which district is going to take them,” said Eric Scorsone, a professor at Michigan State University and an expert on the state’s emergency manager law. “The law doesn’t allow one school district to be forced to take another’s kids. Hamtramck or Detroit would be the only real candidates. It has to be a contiguous school district.”

Detroit Public Schools is the state’s largest district, with a $1.1 billion budget and 66,000 students; Hamtramck Schools is a small district with a $32 million budget and 3,000 students. DPS and Hamtramck are on the state “watch list” for districts with sizable deficits, but both are in better shape than Highland Park, according to state documents.

Schools are the first step, if Highland Park were to consolidate. But why not other services — or the city as a whole? Highland Park has almost always been seen as an abscess of Detroit, so why not just fold the smaller city into the larger one?

For some reason, the gentrification, or lack thereof, efforts under way in certain parts of Detroit have bypassed Highland Park, despite its close proximity to all things Detroit and still an easy drive to cooler Ferndale and Royal Oak.

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