SCS Board Votes On School Closures Plan

(Shelby County) The Shelby County school board voted on the final closure plan for several schools Monday night.

The plan, effective 2014-2015:

- Alcy stays open

- Corry Middle to close, send students to Hamilton Middle (Achievement School District phase-in)

- Cypress Middle to Grandview Middle

- Klondike Elementary to close, send students to Vollentine Elementary (ASD phase-in)

- Northside High remains open (defer closure decision for one year)

- Riverview Elementary to close, send students to Riverview Middle

- Riverview Middle converted to K-8

- Shannon Elementary to close, send students to Douglass K-8 (ASD phase-in)

- Westhaven Elementary to close, send students to Fairley Elementary and Raineshaven Elementary (send resolution to County Commission for construction of new school building)

- Gordon Elementary, Graves Elementary, Lanier Middle, and Vance Middle to close

Before the voting began, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said the district needs to figure out how to attract students back to Northside, and that there is no concrete plan for re-purposing empty buildings.

Board member Shante Avant asked to keep Westhaven open while a new school is built, and not to combine those schools.

David Reeves said he was concerned about building a new school in a community with a declining population.

Westhaven parents said they were angry with Hopson for wanting to remove kids from the school before a new building is built, and Hopson said the school must be torn down.

David Pickler said the County Commission hasn’t provided any money in seven years, so it can’t be depended on to provide money for a new school building.

Hopson responded by saying Westhaven students would be “safe” in Fairley and Raineshaven.

After voting on the plan, the board unanimously approved the resolution to seek funding from the County Commission for a new building that would include students from Westhaven, Raineshaven, and Fairley.

Amber Willis and her daughter Ariana left the meeting with tear-stained faces.

Willis says Ariana, who has a neurological disease, was in one of the district’s best schools but wasn’t receiving any one-on-one attention.

“I transferred her to Gordon, and she’s a straight-A student,” she said.

Now Gordon is closing.

Meanwhile, Westhaven parents who thought they’d secured a new building at last week’s meeting called the approved plan a slap in the face.

“We’re not through fighting. To me, what they’re doing now is fixing it up for a charter school. It’s not about the kids, it’s about the money.”

Westhaven parent Bridget Bradley, who championed efforts to keep the school open, made one last plea before the vote, saying Westhaven has the most students with special needs and has met every criteria the board asked the school to meet.

“We want to remain together,” she said. “We will stay in our school while your build a new one behind it.”

Parents at the meeting called the original closure plan ‘organized segregation,’ and were upset Superintendent Dorsey Hopson was not there at the start of the meeting. Hopson was returning from a visit to the White House regarding school lunches, and arrived after the meeting began.

A Rhodes fellow volunteering at Gordon said the merger is unprecedented and it makes sense to close some schools, but not Gordon.

Representative Raumesh Akbari asked the board to save Westhaven and Alcy, while Commissioner Justin Ford asked the board not to close schools in general and Avant moved to add a resolution to build a new school for Westhaven, Fairley, and Raineshaven.

Before going over the revised closure plan, Hopson said, “We have one of the poorest school districts in the country, and the last chance for these kids is education…What we’re doing right now is not working…the model we’re using has led to achievement data we’re talking about.”

Watch WREG at 10 p.m. for more about the meeting and the board’s decision.

10 comments

  • George

    I am happy to see one (only one) segment of our City-Shelby County Government making decisions on common and good business sense instead of on racial politicking reasons/ Congratulations Mr. Hopson.

  • smith

    I would be willing to bet that most of the people at this meeting that supported not closing these school,”Could not write there names”

  • Notthehood

    Mr. Obama did not create the issues surrounding the SCS system. If more of the students in SCS maintained his focus on learning and achieved half of the formal education that Mr. Obama has, perhaps MCS would still be around and the scrambling that the “burbs” are doing now wouldn’t be required. Mr. Hopson is making hard choices that seem to be a positive, new direction for SCS. What I don’t want to see, however, is the influx of too many charter schools because that will compromise Public Education.

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