As you may recall, the Grand Rapids school board approved the sale of Huff Elementary School late last year to the Redstone Group, a residential developer, who offered $1 million for the property. In doing so, the school board rejected a bid for $1.38 million from Mosaica. They stiffed the taxpayers and signed on with the lower bidder because Mosaica is a charter school company who wanted to use Huff for its intended purpose -- a school. That meant parents in the neighborhood might choose to send their children to a Mosaica-run Huff School instead of to a more distant Grand Rapids public school. To protect its turf, instead of the best interests of students and taxpayers, our school board told Mosaica to take a hike and agreed to sell the school to Redstone for residential redevelopment.
This week Redstone has informed the Grand Rapids school board that it is renegeing on the deal. It won't buy Huff School, because the company cannot make the school building fit into a financially viable residential project. Meanwhile, Mosaica told the school board that it no longer has any interest in buying Huff School, especially in light of the treatment it received from board members and other school officials. So the Grand Rapids public school district is stuck with yet another empty building and a lost opportunity to put some money in the district's declining coffers.
Expect more of these disappointments now that the school board has hired Bernard Taylor as the new superintendent. Although Taylor was fired from his previous gig running the Kansas City public school district, his redeeming quality to our school board was his willingness to do battle with charter schools. Instead of finding a superintendent who could innovate, knock heads within the public school bureaucracy, get the teachers union to reckon with reality, excoriate parents who think it is the public school's job to inspire their children to learn instead of them, brook no nonsense with the racialism corrupting the operation of the district, and truly put the kids first by harnessing the pressure for reform from outside forces like charter schools to make the Grand Rapids public school district better, our school board has hired a reactionary who will raise walls against the reformers instead of building bridges to them.
The collapse of the Huff deal is an omen of the ruin that the Grand Rapids school board is courting.