School district unveils plan to close down Dickinson West

By Charles Sercombe

The downsizing of Hamtramck’s public schools is taking shape.

At last week’s School Board meeting, Superintendent Tom Niczay made available a one-page outline of what is going to happen when the district closes down Dickinson West Elementary School.

The school is housed in the former school operated by St. Ladislaus Parish. The district began renting the school from the Detroit Archdiocese in 1992 when the district was short of classroom space.

Those days are long gone. Instead of worrying about where to put students, the district is fighting to retain and recruit students. Local charter schools have drained away district school kids, which in turn has resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in state financial aid for the school district.

Closing down Dickinson West will save the district $468,966 a year. The lease costs the district $192,000 a year and $276,966 on utilities. Although transferring the 600 students at Dickinson to other school buildings will be straining, the plan is workable, said Niczay.

“We’re going to figure this out and make due,” Niczay said.

Here’s how Niczay plans to transfer the students:

Students in grades one through four will be housed in portable classrooms that have sat unused for several years on the grounds of Kosciuszko Middle School. Those in grades five and six will be placed in Kosciuszko school.

Inside Kosciuszko, those in grades one through six will be in a separate part of the school building, away from seventh and eighth graders. And within that grouping, fifth and sixth graders will be located in the east end of the school with their own entrance doors.

An unused room in the school will be converted into a cafeteria for their use.

The closing down of Dickinson West will also mean laying off teachers and other school employees. Niczay said he does not yet know how many employees will be laid off, but said layoffs will start April 14.

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