(Memphis) The superintendent of Memphis City Schools, Dr. Kriner Cash, has recommended six schools for closure.
The six schools are:
Coro Lake Elementary School
White’s Chapel Elementary School
Orleans Elementary School
Norris Elementary School
Humes Middle School
Gordon Elementary School
These schools were among the campuses with low utilization for their capacity. They are generally located in the Northwest and Southwest parts of Memphis, which are seeing decreases in population.
See the attached document for percentage of utilization at each school:
The recommendation includes plans to have students from Coro Lake attend Double Tree Elementary and Westwood Elementary. White’s Chapel students would go to Westwood, Orleans students would go to Lincoln, Norris students would go to Hamilton, Humes students would go to Gestalt, and Gordon students would go to Carnes and Caldwell.
The board will begin the process of discussion on Thursday at a special call meeting.
Much anticipation and uncertainty developed in neighborhoods with low enrollment, after the news that the Transition Planning Commission recommended closing 20 schools.
Dr. Barbara Prescott, chairperson of that committee, said the schools chosen for closure would have to have other schools close enough to receive those students.
While there may have been a couple of cases in suburban Shelby County where utilization was low, Prescott said that those campuses did not have any schools close to them that could receive the students.
All recommended schools for closure so far are within Memphis city limits.
The Carver High School community was particularly concerned about being on the chopping block, but alumni, students and parents found out Monday night that they cleared this round.
Kemario Davis, a junior at Carver High School, said the student body was nervous because “we notice that our school fits the criteria.”
That spurred protests and pro-active community meetings.
“It will be saved. Because I’m only in 11th, and I plan on graduating from Carver High School,” Davis said.
Alumna April Bryant was happy to hear her alma mater was saved, at least for now.
“I’m slightly eased, but my concern still is for all students,” she said.
She and others thought about how a closure would put staff out of work and leave an empty building.
David Page has two sons at Carver High School and also teaches in West Memphis.
He said he does understand the economic reason for consolidating student bodies. But he also said that would create discipline problems, with students from potential rival territories entering the same space.
“We’re talking about test scores, but you wouldn’t even get to that point when you start putting these schools together. And that conflict is going to be, I mean, it’s going to be enormous,” he said.
They all agree the way to prevent being considered for closure is to boost test scores and increase the student body population.
It’s no easy task, but this community in particular is willing to try. They said they want city involvement to help make their neighborhood an attractive place for young families.
Bryant said, “Be cohesive, potentially buy property, things of that nature that will generate production. And once that production is generated, then we will see the long-term effect of it.”