VOL. 131 | NO. 14 | Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Crosstown High School Draft Proposal Unveiled
By Bill Dries
Tentative plans for a Crosstown High School surfaced Tuesday, Jan. 19, after months of behind-the-scenes discussions.
A 450-student high school at Crosstown Concourse would be a part of the Shelby County Schools system but would have its own nonprofit board similar to the University of Memphis campus school. And it would be a partnership with Christian Brothers University, with CBU president John Smarrelli heading the school’s board.
That is the basic and tentative framework for Crosstown High School Inc. outlined for SCS board members Tuesday by superintendent Dorsey Hopson.
Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson has outlined the tentative framework for Crosstown High School, which would be part of the SCS system but have its own nonprofit board.
(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)
The high school would open in the 2017-2018 school year with one or two grades in the first year.
Hopson said he was approached by CBU last year after Gestalt Community Schools dropped its plans for a charter school at Crosstown Concourse.
“I think the track that we have to run on here is what happened with our contract school over at the University of Memphis,” Hopson told board members at a Tuesday evening work session.
“I told them that I think diversity, diversity, diversity at this school would be very important.”
In terms of students admitted, Crosstown High would operate as a magnet school, open to students across the city and unincorporated county who would test in to be admitted.
Hopson included a provision in the draft that 35 percent of the students at the high school must be on free or reduced lunch.
But he told board members that was to start discussions about ensuring diversity in the school’s enrollment.
School board members also emphasized the need for diversity. And they questioned the impact on nearby high schools, most notably East High School, because of the draw a Crosstown High School would have on students from Maxine Smith STEAM Academy.
Before Gestalt called off its plans for Crosstown, Hopson had talked of making East a STEAM high school that would draw students from the middle school.
School board members also questioned why the school needed its own board and how that board would interact with them, as well as what it would cost to open the school.
CBU is a partner with SCS in the STEAM Academy and the Middle College High School also in the same school building – the former Fairview Junior High School at Central Avenue and East Parkway, across Central from the CBU campus.
“We’ve got a lot of experience with educating diverse populations,” Smarrelli told the school board. “We have commitments from anonymous donors.”
The draft contract also says the Crosstown school would be funded at an amount equal to per pupil amount the school system currently pays charter schools approved by the school board and multiplied by average daily membership at the school – one of several types of head counts of students in a school taken by the school system for funding purposes.