In the dozen cities the Pew Charitable Trusts reviewed, some 327 schools were sitting idle last year and for sale. That means those properties – typically nestled in residential neighborhoods – are costing districts that still have to keep them secure, insured and heated. Meanwhile, the financially strapped districts are not collecting taxes on some prime real estate to fund the schools that do survive.
"We still have school police officers and engineers in the building to make sure it's not a dangerous location," Philadelphia schools spokeswoman Deirdre Darragh.
But with more parents choosing charter schools or private options, the need for these aging public buildings has shrunk in cities. Pew researchers anticipated the number of for-sale buildings will swell in coming years as school districts consolidate their facilities in response to tighter budgets and more families moving out of the cities and into the suburbs.