Shelby County School Board Considers Closing 11 Schools

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(Memphis) The Shelby County school board is considering a plan that would close 11 schools to cut costs.

Interim Superintendent Dorsey Hopson thinks the move would save the unified district almost 5 million dollars as the cash strapped district looks at every option to save money.

Eleven schools mostly in northwest and southwest Memphis are on the chopping block because they are underutilized.

The schools include three high schools, two middle schools and six elementary schools.

“This is a list of schools that were on a list that we have very low enrollment in those schools.  We have a policy that centers around school closings,” said School Board Member Patrice Robinson.

Robinson says the board will vote on starting the process of closing those schools beginning in the Fall of 2014 at their meeting Tuesday, “The process includes first of all going out into the community where those parents are in those schools to share with them the data and why we are closing those schools."

The board will then meet with nearby schools where those students will move.

School board member Betty Mallott says students at the schools up for possible closure may not want to go to a new school, but they don’t realize what they are miss by staying there, “We’re not able to provide them the same quality of programs we can provide to the larger schools."

For example some of the smaller schools don’t have enough students to support band or athletics and advanced placement courses.

“As a school board, we have to take a long-term view and that is what courses are we offering that student?  What opportunities does that student have to be in drama perhaps?” said Mallott.

One of the schools on the chopping block is Carver High Schools where forty classrooms were added in a renovation a few years ago.

The only county school, EA Harrold Elementary in Millington, is being recommended for closure and may not even be under the jurisdiction of the unified district by the time it closes, if Millington creates its own district.

Board Members say Hopson is also including two million dollars to bus students from schools that will possibly close to other areas in the city to avoid gang or culture clashes.