VOL. 131 | NO. 117 | Monday, June 13, 2016
Carver High Closing Likely Not Last
By Bill Dries
Over the last 30 years, there have been proposals to close Carver High School. The nearly 60-year-old South Memphis high school survived them all until last week when Shelby County Schools board members voted to close it effective immediately.
The school year that ended last month was the final year for Carver High School in South Memphis. Shelby County Schools board members voted Thursday to close the school which opened in the late 1950s. The school had approximately 200 students in its last school year.
Carver is one of 21 Memphis schools closed since the merger of Shelby County’s two public school systems in August 2013, which was followed by the de-merger of public education to seven school systems.
The board’s vote June 9 after a delay in the decision last month is being watched closely by Shelby County commissioners, who meet in committee sessions Wednesday, June 15, to settle on budget recommendations the full commission could vote on a week later.
For some commissioners, the decision to continue closing schools is a factor in whether they will vote for more county funding of the school system.
SCS superintendent Dorsey Hopson has said the closings amount to a relatively small amount in annual savings – a few million at best.
His criteria for closing the schools is low student achievement and low enrollment. Hopson has said that across the school system, there are about 27,000 more seats than students in the wake of the 2014 de-merger.
Hopson told the commission last month that in the fall he will present to the school board another slate of 15-20 proposed closings for the next three to four years.
That is likely to include some reconfigurations of other schools as well as Hopson’s long-held plans for a special curriculum at East High School.
Hopson has usually paired reconfigurations with closings he has proposed.
His recommendations this year included closing Carver, three charter schools and Messick Adult Center, and creating a Whitehaven Empowerment Zone. The zone links five elementary and middle schools to Whitehaven High, with a coordinated curriculum and structure that is more centralized.
The three charter schools appealed the closing decision to state officials who upheld the decision.
The vote on Carver was delayed so the SCS board could review a plan by residents in the area to keep it open.
But after reviewing the options this spring, Hopson said with around 200 students enrolled and low achievement test scores, Carver couldn’t offer the variety of courses needed for a high school.
Carver students who did not graduate in May will be zoned to attend Hamilton High School in August.
School board members voted last month to close Northside High for similar reasons. But that closing is effective with the 2017-2018 school year, giving the North Memphis school another year.
However, SCS board member Scott McCormick said Thursday he may reconsider that decision and move instead to close Northside before the new school year begins.