District begins busing students in effort to save Crenshaw Elementary

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SARDIS, Miss. --  An elementary school in the North Panola School District is on the verge of closing its doors for good.

For years, Crenshaw Elementary has been facing staffing challenges, failing performances and low attendance.

To keep the school from shutting down completely and improve performance, the district decided to begin busing second- through fifth-graders to Grenhill and Como Elementaries about 20 minutes away. Kindergarten and first grades will remain at the school.

Some residents, including the mayor, are not happy about that solution.

"Why bus little children away to Como and Sardis when you've got a perfectly good building here? You've got a good staff here. Just invest into the school and help them out."

"We are not trying to close Crenshaw Elementary," said Superintendent Cedric Richardson. "We are trying to make sure those students get the resources and they get the support they need."

For the last five years, the school has struggled, barely staying above water as a D- and F-grade school.

"We've had some challenges staffing that school. We have teachers that have resigned in the middle of the year."

On top of that, there are less than 200 students total that attend the school.

"We have 12 students in the first grade. It's tough to find teachers who are willing to make the drive to that area."

So instead of closing the school and breaking the community's heart, the school district has decided busing the students was the best option.

"If they have a failing grade this year and the state comes in, pulls them under the achievement district model, with the enrollment and their history, the probability of them closing would be very high."

It's essentially the district's last chance to turn things around with the school, but those who went to Crenshaw Elementary aren't happy with the plan. They want the district to bring back the glory days of the school they say was once known for excellence.

"We feel that Crenshaw Elementary really carried the district back in the day. To me they don't put everything they have into Crenshaw."

The state has already brought in a literacy coach to help Crenshaw.


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