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VOL. 132 | NO. 194 | Friday, September 29, 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-kindergarten through 12th grade students into one campus moving its lower school students from campuses in Cordova on Macon Road and East Memphis on Colonial Road to what is currently 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, in the first of a series of three meeting with parents and supporters as well as a video explaining the decision.

Little Harding, for those 18 months old – junior kindergarten will remain open at the Macon Road and Colonial Road locations.

The consolidation onto a single campus for other Harding students begins in August at the start of the next academic year.

Trent Williamson

Harding president Trent Williamson said in the video that Harding has invested $5 million in improvements to the Cherry Road campus and plans to make more there with any future plans contingent on raising the money.

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

Harding bought 90 acres of land near Lakeland City Hall in 2005 as the site of a new campus and athletic complex. One of the reasons for a new school site was a landlocked 28-acre site on Cherry Road. School leaders at the time 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 national economic recession. The recession was followed closely by the merger of public education in Shelby County and then a de-merger 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, says in the video. “Tuition will be kept affordable for more families. And there will be better facilities for all students.”

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

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