District buying two HFC buildings to expand Early College high schools

Aerial photo of buildings the district is buying at Henry Ford College

Dearborn Public Schools has purchased two buildings on the main Henry Ford College campus, with plans to expand Henry Ford Early College and move other services to the site.

The buildings, on the north edge of the college campus, were once home to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and were purchased by the college several years ago.  Buying two of the three buildings that sit just south of Ford Road on the HFC campus will allow Dearborn Public Schools to expand all three Early College programs – Henry Ford Early College Health, Advanced Manufacturing, and School of Education.  The Early Colleges are joint ventures between the district and Henry Ford College.  Students attend the Early Colleges for five years and can graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate degree or trade certification – all at no cost to the student’s family. 

The district is also looking at shifting some other services to the new buildings, freeing up room in other parts of the district.  Dearborn Schools paid just over $2.1 million for the buildings.  The third building in the cluster will continue to serve as the college’s Welcome Center.

“We are excited to have acquired these buildings, and it again shows the benefits of our great relationship  with Henry Ford College,” said Superintendent Glenn Maleyko.  “District students, who in this case are also college students, will only benefit from this change.”

The district is still finalizing plans for how it will expand enrollment on the campus.  Currently, three distinct programs are offered at the campus that together enroll 570 students.

“We highly value our unique partnership with the Dearborn Public Schools, and the Early College programs are a core part of how we engage and serve our community,” said HFC President Russ Kavalhuna. “We will be glad to have even more dual-enrolled students learning in these buildings on the college campus in the years to come. Early College programs are a fantastic pathway to a successful future for students.”

The original Henry Ford Early College is a three-way partnership between the district, college and Henry Ford Health. Students focus on medical careers and get to visit the Henry Ford Hospital for rotations to experience different professions.  Henry Ford Early College last year was the only high school in Michigan to be named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Henry Ford Early College – Advanced Manufacturing – Powered by Ford allows students to earn degrees or trade certifications in 10 technology-related fields such as automotive, electrical, or machine tool technology;  manufacturing trades; drafting/computer assisted design; and mechatronic maintenance.

Henry Ford Early College – School of Education prepares students to work in education with options ranging from paraprofessionals to an associate degree on the way to a bachelor’s degree in an education field. The School of Education is a program under the original Henry Ford Early College, not a separate high school.

Besides expanding high school enrollment, the district is also considering moving Adult Education to the new building.  That would in turn free up a few rooms at the Dearborn Heights Campus in the area also occupied by the Michael Berry Career Center.

The district hired French Associates architects last fall to help evaluate the buildings and develop remodeling plans to expand programs at the building.  Both buildings, each about 30,000 square feet, have sat idle for several years and will require considerable renovation to outfit them to become a state-of-the-art educational facility that meets current requirements such as accessibility compliance.  Preliminary estimates are targeting a January 2024 date for students and staff to occupy the buildings.   

The first Early College started in the district almost 15 years ago, and the programs have continued to grow in numbers and offerings. Expanding the Early College, along with expanding offerings at the Berry Center, will have a side benefit of relieving enrollment pressure at the three traditional high schools.  

Current estimates put building a new traditional high school in Dearborn anywhere from $125 million up to $188 million depending on size of the school.  The figure does not include the purchase of land which would need to be about 20 to 30 acres to accommodate athletic facilities, parking, and adequate traffic patterns. For comparison, Dearborn High is 240,000 square feet and sits on 45 acres.  Edsel Ford is 241,500 square feet and sits on 49 acres, and Fordson is 373,000 square feet and sits on 14 acres. 

“Expanding the Early College programs will first and foremost serve our students by allowing more of them to graduate high school ready for the workforce or with a head start on a bachelor’s degree,” Dr. Maleyko said. “But expanding the Early College will also have the added benefit of relieving some of the stress of higher enrollment on our three traditional high schools.”