VOL. 131 | NO. 243 | Wednesday, December 7, 2016
SCS Board Hears From Parents and Teachers of Schools Considered for Closing
By Bill Dries
Parents and teachers of three schools that would be closed under the latest rightsizing plan for Shelby County Schools made a vocal show of force Tuesday, Dec. 6, as the SCS board voted to begin the process of public hearings in the areas affected by the plan.
The board vote was without debate as part of a larger consent agenda at the last school board meeting of the year.
The hearings set up a vote early next year on the plan itself. SCS superintendent Dorsey Hopson could change some elements of the proposal based on what happens at the hearings. He has made changes in past plans to close schools.
No dates had been set late Tuesday for the meetings or the school board vote that would put the plan into action starting with closings at the end of the current school year.
Those speaking in opposition were parents and teachers of students at Knight Road, Charjean and Dunbar Elementary Schools.
They are three of the seven schools that would be closed in the plan as three new schools are built.
Knight Road would close and its students would be consolidated into a new Goodlett Elementary School that would be built on the site of the existing Goodlett Elementary.
“Why can’t the new building be built on Knight Road?” asked Marisol Perez, a teacher at the school. “Our parents want our school. Our school is achieving.”
Dunbar would close with its students sent to Bethel Grove and Cherokee Elementary Schools. Hopson has said the school system would then demolish the building and the land could be used at a “Golden Wildcats Lane” – a Tiger Lane of sorts for tailgating at Melrose High School games in Orange Mound.
Parents and teachers said the loss of Dunbar would leave Orange Mound without its own elementary school.
Adopters of the school including leaders of the New Ballet Ensemble also called on the school board to block the closing to give their efforts a chance to work.
Charjean would close along with Magnolia Elementary School and those two schools would be consolidated into a newly built Alcy Elementary School – a school that had been in a first draft of an earlier closing plan that Hopson later changed before the board approved the rest of the plan.
Hopson said he understood the calls to -- as he put it – “close those schools, just don’t close my school.”
“Everybody has a reason for why they don’t want action to happen,” Hopson said. “I respect that. But at the end of the day, we still have almost 25,000 more seats than we have students.”
Other parts of the proposal call for closing Carnes Elementary School and zoning its students to Downtown and Bruce Elementary Schools. There is also a longer range plan to build a Woodstock k-12 school on or near the site of the current Woodstock Middle School in north Shelby County and close Northaven and Lucy Elementary Schools and rezone high school students in the area now attending Trezevant and Bolton High Schools to Woodstock k-12.
The school closings with no consolidation would be effective this coming August. The consolidations that involve new school construction would start in the 2018-2019 school year. The Woodstock k-12 has a more tentative target date beyond the next two school years.