City of Baltimore: School Reuse Framework

Report National Resource Network Baltimore, Maryland September 12, 2016 Economic Development

In 2012 Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) announced that it would close 26 school facilities – approximately 16% of all city schools – over the course of 10 years. The closures are tied to the 21st Century Schools Buildings Plan, which leverages nearly $1 billion of funds to renovate and modernize all public school buildings in Baltimore.

In September 2016, the Network produced a presentation on a Reuse Framework for Surplus School Sites. Most surplus school buildings are functionally obsolete and require major renovations or retrofits for new uses. The Network’s presentation covered the challenges of school reuse in Baltimore, including the location and state of most of the sites; the volume of sites being closed; and the process for evaluating and acting on the current sites.

The Network identified a number of gaps within the current process that prevent school sites from reaching their full potential for reuse and recommended a revised framework using a more holistic and coordinated approach. The new framework includes five recommendations to improve the process:

  • Establish a task force to bring together the various stakeholders and oversee the process in a holistic and coordinated manner.
  • Conduct an initial assessment at each site that informs reuse potential and prioritizes reuse options.
  • Formalize community engagement within the reuse process to gather resident input and seek buy-in for potential reuse options.
  • Implement a project visioning phase to provide proof of concept for a proposed use and, if applicable, generate interest from private users.
  • Provide a clear reuse track for sites based on their location in strong- mid- and weak-market and their targeted reuse.

The Network’s engagement team in Baltimore was led by Network consortium members Enterprise Community Partners and HR&A. In concert with this report, the Network also developed a memo guiding the city in its efforts to engage with local anchor institutions around school properties that were being built or renovated. That report is available here .

City of Baltimore: School Reuse Framework