Closed School Buildings Can Still Be Useful
By Dave Lucas
Albany, NY – What happens to school buildings after those buildings are closed? Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports
As populations and demographics shift over time in municipalities and communities, local schools, both public and private, may have to be closed or merged with others, leaving empty buildings where neighborhood anchors once stood. Some are "mothballed" while others are rented or sold and converted into something else. The process repeats itself over and over as years go by.
From 1921 through 1977, Vincentian Institute served Albany as one of several Catholic High Schools. After it was closed by the Diocese, the building was eventually transformed into St. Vincent's Community Center, continuing in service as a neighborhood anchor... Mercy High School across the street from St. Peter's Hospital, is now a health care facility. Sister Jane Herb, Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Albany, says closing any school is a difficult decision. City of Hudson Mayor Rick Scalera says many neighborhood schools end up servicing the community. Rocky Ferraro, executive director of the Capital District Regional Planning Commission, says there are differences between urban and suburban schools when it comes to WHY buildings are shuttered - it began back in the 1950s when populations peaked and then dropped off when middle class families began moving to the suburbs. As suburban communities grew, they built their own schools. Ferraro expects future trends will be determined as 2010 US census data is analyzed to indicate where populations shifts are likely to occur, data school districts can use to gauge the need to shutter or re-open buildings.