Decades of declining enrollment have left the Kansas City and Saint Louis school districts with a unique problem—too many school buildings. Rather than operate schools well below capacity, the districts have elected to close many schools, leaving the district with vacant school buildings. This paper explores the problem of vacant school buildings and offers suggestions for returning these public buildings back to productive use. Specifically, we recommend that vacant school buildings be leased or sold to public charter schools. Both districts are making progress in this regard, but they have much room for improvement when it comes to disinvesting from abandoned school buildings.

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About the Author

Abigail Fallon
James Shuls
James Shuls
Distinguished Fellow of Education Policy

James V. Shuls is an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Missouri–St. Louis and Distinguished Fellow in Education Policy at the Show-Me Institute.