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Inside Report (4)

Thousands of US public schools have closed since 1970 because of declining enrollments -- a trend that probably will continue for at least five more years.

But most school sytems, anticipating a miniboom in enrollments again in the mid-'80s, are reluctant to let their unused buildings go for permanent conversions to apartments, community centers, arts studios, and the like. They prefer leasing to selling.

But analysts say the expected boom may not warrant the mothballing and suggest that many systems may eventually decide to let their schools go on a more permanent basis.m

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