School Board To Consider Reversing Course On Humes

By Bill Dries

Countywide school board members meeting in special session Tuesday, March 19, will consider a recommendation to change or alter plans for an optional school for the musical arts at Humes Middle School and instead turn the school over to the state-led Achievement School District.

The recommendation from schools administration is on an agenda made public Monday afternoon. It is specifically to rescind the earlier closure of Humes and approve a memorandum of understanding with the Achievement School District.

The board voted late last year to close Humes as a middle school effective at the end of the current school year and make it an optional school starting with the Aug. 5 start of the new school year.

But the plans by former Memphis City Schools superintendent Kriner Cash ran into problems with the new year from ASD leaders who had originally wanted the Humes building.

The Achievement School District through the Gestalt charter school at Gordon Elementary School is already taking the 6th graders from Humes with plans to include Humes 7th and 8th graders starting next school year. But the ASD agreed with Cash to coexist with the conventional elementary school located at Gordon at least for the first year.

ASD superintendent Chris Barbic maintained that the Achievement School District had the legal authority to move into the Humes building itself. But Barbic also said there was enough room in what was once a high school to house both the Achievement school as well as the optional school.

Also on the Tuesday agenda are two co-location leases for schools for targeted groups of students to operate within Northside and Southside High Schools.

Former Memphis Mayor and Memphis City Schools superintendent Willie Herenton had worked with Cash on a plan to locate one of his W.E.B DuBois Academy charter schools at Northside and several other schools. Herenton’s plan was to target children in Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court detention and who would otherwise return to their old schools once their stay in detention is over.

Herenton’s idea had the backing of not only Cash but Juvenile Court Judge Curtis Person Jr.

The two agenda items for Northside and Southside do not include drafts of any lease agreements to be considered by the board.

The agenda makes no mention of reported contract buyout talks involving Shelby County Schools superintendent John Aitken. But the board will vote on a approving a timeline for the national superintendent search being conducted by PROACT, the consulting company hired by the school board.