Gordon Elementary Not Part of State-Led District

By Bill Dries

Leaders of the Achievement School District will announce Friday, Dec. 14, which schools in the Memphis City Schools system they plan to include in the state-led school district next school year.

And as the announcement nears, they are also making it clear that Gordon Elementary School will not be on the list of 10 schools. Gordon also is not on the list of 14 Memphis elementary and middle schools under consideration.

The Achievement School District is for those schools in the bottom 5 percent of schools across Tennessee in terms of student performance. The goal of the district is for them to be in the top 25 percent in the state in student performance within five years.

Gordon’s name has surfaced because the countywide school board is considering a set of separate school closings that include turning over all of Gordon to the Achievement School District.

“Gordon is not on our list,” said Achievement School District spokesman Jeremy Jones. “MCS is fully in the driver’s seat when it comes to decisions about Gordon.”

The school closing proposal that Memphis City Schools superintendent Kriner Cash released just after Thanksgiving involved closing Gordon and transferring its 398 students to two other nearby schools.

“Gordon is not on our list. MCS is fully in the driver’s seat when it comes to decisions about Gordon.”

–Jeremy Jones
Spokesman, Achievement School District

But when the plan arrived at the countywide school board that same week, it had become a proposal to make Gordon part of the Achievement School District. Cash acknowledged the Achievement School District had not agreed to such a move but said they were talking it over.

And at a school board work session Tuesday, Dec. 11, Cash told the board he is pulling the proposed closing of Gordon at least for the time being.

The school board voted in November to begin the process of considering the school closings with a vote tentatively scheduled for March after a series of public hearings in the affected communities.

Gordon is a conventional school that is part of the Memphis City Schools system. It has within it an Achievement School District charter school, the Gordon Science and Arts Academy, operated by Gestalt Community Schools. Gestalt is among the charter school companies who will be matched with one of the new group of 10 schools to be announced Friday as part of the Achievement School District.

Achievement School District officials have emphasized they are working with Memphis City Schools leaders on the selection process in a cooperative way.

But as the announcement neared this week, they became clearer about Gordon’s future going into the first school year of the merger of city and county public schools in Shelby County, which begins in August.

It will be the second year of the ASD, which has six schools in Memphis.

There are 14 schools under consideration by the state-run school district. They are Corry, Cypress and Georgian Hills middle schools and Cherokee, Graves, Alcy-Ball, Hanley, Shannon, Whitney, Denver, Caldwell-Guthrie, Treadwell, Klondike and Norris elementary schools.

Some will be run directly by the Achievement School District and others will be run by charter operators under contract with the ASD.