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‘This could be a game changer’: SCS plan would close 28 schools, build 10 more

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson presented a plan to the school board Tuesday that would consolidate 28 schools, rezone 22, build 10 new ones and build additions to five others.

Hopson said in a tweet that the plan puts 15,000 kids in new buildings in Orange Mound, Raleigh/Frayser, Woodstock, Hickory Hill, Parkway Village and Whitehaven, saves $15-25 million per year that could be invested into operations and eliminates $102 million in deferred maintenance.

It would cost about $700 million over 10-12 years, he said.

"This could really be a big game changer for our community when you start talking about 15,000 mostly poor black and brown inner-city kids in new facilities," Hopson said.

He says the district has 25,000 empty seats and around $500 million in deferred maintenance, including issues with HVAC systems that forced several school closures in the past few weeks.

"Many of our schools were built in the 1950s and are in desperate need of upgrades and repairs," Hopson said in an editorial published Monday. "Although our community is well aware of these issues and the $450MM needed to fix these problems, public entities have not made investments to enhance the standard of living in some areas."

He says it's easier to do this than continually fix reoccurring maintenance issues at schools that are way under capacity.

"We save about $20 million a year in operating costs which we could invest back into schools."

But school board members have concerns. Stephanie Love says transplanting that many kids could be dangerous.

"We have gang issues in a lot of our areas where students attend schools," Love said. "Parents have concerns. Is my child going to be safe in this new building?"

Love and fellow board member Teresa Jones want each affected area to have input.

"When we bring these great plans that are thought out, that really work for the district, they don't tend to work for people in the community," Jones said.

Complicating things is Hopson`s impending resignation. He leaves for the private sector in the coming weeks.

"I didn't want to leave without bringing something to the board as they requested me to present to them," he said.

Schools that could potentially close are:

  • E E Jeter K-8
  • Northaven Elementary
  • Lucy Elementary
  • Woodstock Middle
  • Bolton High
  • Egypt Elementary
  • Trezevant High
  • Raleigh-Egypt 6-12
  • Oakshire Elementary
  • Gardenview Elementary
  • Shady Grove Elementary
  • Bethel Grove Elementary
  • Dunbar Elementary
  • Cherokee Elementary
  • Wooddale High
  • Sheffield High
  • Oakhaven High
  • Crump Elementary
  • Ross Elementary
  • Alton Elementary
  • Westwood High
  • Hamilton Middle
  • Goodlett Elementary
  • Knight Road Elementary
  • Charjean Elementary
  • Magnolia Elementary

New schools proposed:

  • New school in the current Alcy Elementary campus
  • New school in the current Goodlett Elementary campus
  • New elementary school in Orange Mound
  • New K-12 school in the Raleigh-Egypt area
  • New K-8 school in Woodstock area
  • New J.P. Freeman Optional School
  • New elementary school in Hickory Hill area
  • New high school in Cordova area
  • New high school in Parkway Village area

School additions:

  • Whitehaven Elementary
  • Winchester Elementary
  • Brownsville Road Elementary
  • Grandview Heights Middle
  • Lucie E. Campbell Elementary
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