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VOL. 132 | NO. 195 | Monday, October 2, 2017

Harding to Move Lower Schools to Cherry Road in Consolidation

By Bill Dries

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Harding Academy of Memphis is consolidating its senior-K through 12th grade students into one campus, moving lower-school students from campuses on Macon Road and Colonial Road to its upper-school campus at 1100 Cherry Road.

Leaders of the private school announced the move to consolidate on a single campus Thursday, Sept. 28, during the first of three meetings with parents and supporters.

Little Harding, for those 18 months old through junior K, will remain open at the Macon Road and Colonial Road locations in Cordova and East Memphis, respectively.

Consolidating the other Harding students into a single campus begins next August at the start of the academic year.

Trent Williamson

Harding has invested $5 million in improvements to the Cherry Road campus and plans to make more there, contingent on raising money for those improvements, Harding president Trent Williamson said in a video outlining the consolidation.

Harding also plans to sell its Cordova campus and land it bought in Lakeland just before the 2008 economic recession.

Harding bought 90 acres near Lakeland City Hall in 2005 as the site of a new campus and athletic complex. One of the reasons for that was being landlocked at 28-acre site on Cherry Road. At the time, school leaders also said 76 percent of the school’s families lived beyond the Interstate 240 loop.

But those plans were shelved three years later by the Great Recession, which was followed closely by the merger of public education in Shelby County and then a demerger into six suburban school systems, including one in Lakeland.

Harding began renovating its Cherry Road campus in 2011 instead of moving ahead with plans for a Lakeland campus.

The Harding board has approved $200,000 in matching funds for any gifts made over the different phases of future development on Cherry Road. The tentative plans include classrooms with outdoor courtyards and a new entrance for the upper and middle schools.

“On one campus, we can focus more effectively on our unified mission and culture,” Randy Frederick, chairman of the school’s board of trustees, said in the video. “Tuition will be kept affordable for more families. And there will be better facilities for all students.”

He said the consolidation will create a “one-stop shop in the heart of the city.”

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