Cities have hundreds of empty schools for sale, often sell for far less than value

Publication: Washington Post

Author: Associated Press

02/12/2013 - Hundreds of schools in the nation’s largest cities are sitting empty as education officials struggle to sell these potentially valuable properties that are a drain on school district finances, according to a study released Monday.

In the dozen cities the Pew Charitable Trusts reviewed, some 327 schools were sitting idle last year and for sale. That means those properties — typically nestled in residential neighborhoods — are costing districts that still have to keep them secure, insured and heated. Meanwhile, the financially strapped districts are not collecting taxes on some prime real estate to fund the schools that do survive.

Nationally, the data foretells a shift as public school officials take on added roles of real estate agent, auctioneer or landlord. Some districts have turned to real estate brokers for help while others have accepted lower bids simply to get the buildings off their books. Some, such as Detroit, manage their real estate marketing internally with two staffers.

“Typically, they’re not just set up to sell and manage real estate,” said Pew researcher Emily Dowdall.

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