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(Memphis, TN 2/27/12) Six Memphis City Schools will either be taken over by the state, or be working side by side with charter schools.

Up to this point, the state and MCS have co-managed four schools: Frayser High School, Hamilton High School, Northside High School and Raleigh Egypt Middle School.

But today’s announcement focused on six elementary and middle schools, with the idea that starting when they’re young may mean a better chance for success. “To transform a high school, you must first work with great focus and intentionality in the elementary and middle schools that feed it,” said Dr. Kriner Cash, superintendent of Memphis City Schools.

The state’s Achievement School District, or ASD, will make a decision about the four currently co-managed schools at the end of the academic year. They are currently still under MCS and are not part of Monday’s announcement. Focusing on the younger students, ASD will take over three “feeder” schools in the Frayser area. ASD will take over Frayser Elementary School, Corning Elementary School, and Westside Middle School by August of 2012. Faculty and staff who wish to stay at the schools will reapply for their positions with ASD. All three schools are in Frayser and the ASD head office will likely be in Frayser, since Superintendent Chris Barbic says Frayser has the highest concentration of bottom five-percent schools of any community in Tennessee. “We know we can do better. We know the kids in Frayser deserve better.

And we’re excited to talk about the plans that we have to make sure that every single student in the Frayser community has access to a great, quality public education,” Barbic said. In addition, three other schools will “co-habitate” with charter management organizations. Lester Elementary School will have its kindergarten through third grade taken over by Cornerstone Academy in its first year, with fourth and fifth grade also taken over by 2013-14. Gordon Elementary will share its campus with Gestalt Community Schools. Gestalt will first open a sixth grade for those finishing at Gordon Elementary, then expanding through eighth grade. Cypress Middle School will co-habitate with KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools. KIPP will open upper grade level classes, then lower grade level classes. Faculty and staff at Gordon Elementary and Cypress Middle schools will not change, since the charter organizations are there to expand to new grade levels.

All three charter agreements have been signed for a period of 10 years. Superintendents Kriner Cash and John Aitken were joined by ASD staff and mayors Wharton and Luttrell for the announcement. “This is about transformation not merely of school buildings but of neighborhoods,” Wharton said.

The goal is to bring these three state-run schools into the top 25 percent after five years.

ASD then intends to turn the schools back to local control. Questions about these changes can be addressed at three parent information sessions held by ASD. They will take place March 8, March 15 and March 20. The locations have not been announced.