By Vickie Thomas

HIGHLAND PARK (WWJ) – Highland Park’s high school building will close for good at the end of this school year.

That’s according to Highland Park Business Association President Mark Hackshaw who told WWJ’s Vickie Thomas — who attended the high school when it first opened  —  that the district is running a $600,000 deficit.

“Vickie, it is what it is,” said Hackshaw on Thursday, outside the school building on Woodward Ave. “We can’t even seem to keep the grass cut around here; the athletic fields are in horrible shape.”

The Detroit enclave’s school district is already run by a state-appointed emergency manager and charter school company the Leona Group, a charter school company; but the district — re-branded as “Highland Park Renaissance Academy” — is still struggling.

Beginning in the fall, K-8 students will be housed at the nearby Barber Campus, and grades 9-12 will be moved to what’s currently Henry Ford Middle School.

That plan hinges on the Leona Group securing a $500,000 bridge loan from the state.

Hackshaw said the business association also plans to do its part.

“We’re offering to help with enrollment, recruitment, with mentoring,” he said.”We have offered to help the district do anything that they need to do to get to their enrollment numbers here; to let everyone know that Highland Park is alive and well,” said Hackshaw.

Highland Park Schools have been facing exponentially declining enrollment in recent years, but Hackshaw has high hopes for the future.

“…We’re streamlining this educational system. The kids are gonna come here,” Hackshaw said. “We figure in the next year there’ll be a waiting list at Highland Park Schools.”

When the state took over financial control of the district in 2012, the deficit was estimated at a whopping $11.3 million.

The district made headlines again last year when residents took to the streets in protest after thousands of black history books and materials from the high school library were mistakenly tossed in the trash.


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