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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.

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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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