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updated 10/18/2012 11:19:53 AM ET 2012-10-18T15:19:53

Tennis rackets, at least two pianos, science lab microscopes and a battery-powered scooter are among dozens of surplus items that will be auctioned off from Detroit's closed Southwestern High School.

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The online auction, viewed on www.biddergy.com, is a pilot program and began at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Money raised will be used to help the cash-strapped public school district pay down its $75 million budget deficit.

Surplus school items have been auctioned off in the past, but not online, according to Eric Dunatchik, executive director of inventory management for the district.

"All that material would be moved to the central warehouse and then we'd have a more traditional live auction," Dunatchik said.

Dunatchik said Wednesday he was not sure how much will be raised through the auction, but said about $85,000 in moving costs is expected to be saved by not trucking the items to the warehouse.

Since 2009, more than $11 million has been raised from the sale of vacant school properties and annual leases.

The district showcased 22 school buildings and sites in May during a daylong real estate purchasing conference for investors, developers and builders.

"It's critically important that we seize every opportunity to identify areas of savings, no matter the size or scope, that have no negative effects on students, and we are actively reviewing all inventory procedures throughout the district as one such area," state-appointed emergency financial manager Roy Roberts said. "This auction at Southwestern is the perfect example of that, saving us upward of $80,000 in transportation costs alone. And DPS' comprehensive real estate efforts include professionally and creatively marketing excess property like this building for sale, and protecting and disposing of unneeded assets."

Other items up for bid Thursday include commercial kitchen and laundry appliances, lockers, metal sinks, fans and baseball equipment.

Dozens of Detroit schools have closed as enrollment in the district plummeted by nearly 100,000 students over the past 10 years.

Southwestern was among eight schools slated for closure this year.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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