Memphis-Shelby County Schools: School Closures, Mergers

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Newly dubbed the Memphis-Shelby County Schools, the district has begun implementing proposed facility changes in the Reimagine 901 plan unveiled last spring, with the first major facility changes receiving the board’s vote on Tuesday.

Shady Grove and Alton Elementary Schools will both close at the end of the school year, affecting approximately 600 students, their families and teachers. Other schools will move to new buildings.

Council members voted unanimously to change the district’s name and close and merge its schools under a consent program with more than 30 points. There was no board discussion at the business meeting.

From April:SCS proposes to build 5 schools, close about 15 and add 13. Here are the details

The district’s plan, unveiled last April, includes the school facilities plan as well as an academic plan, both impacted by the district’s injection of hundreds of millions in federal funding during the three rounds of COVID-19 stimulus.

“We look forward to dismantling the systems that perpetuate inequalities in education,” Superintendent Joris Ray said in his report Tuesday night when discussing the facilities plan. He told council members he slept in the council auditorium for a seat at an optional school was a student in Memphis.

“We want to create high quality seats for all of our children,” Ray said. “… It starts tonight.”

The plan is the first of Ray, who inherited a a “footprint” consolidation plan left by former Superintendent Dorsey Hopson in the final weeks of his term. The district had planned to share a long-term plan with the county in 2020, but never did. The new plan builds on Hopson’s consolidation plan, which included 28 school closures, 10 new buildings and additions to five buildingsan effort to process hundreds of millions of deferred maintenance projects and thousands of open places for students.

Ray’s plan, as unveiled in April, proposed five new schools and the closure of about 13 to 15 others, mostly through consolidation. The plan proposes additions to at least 13 existing schools. Changes would occur through board votes until 2031.

January 13, 2022 – A new construction plan by the Shelby County Schools District will mean East High School will also house the Maxine Smith STEAM Academy, a middle school.  The plan will be left to a school board vote at the end of January.

Tuesday’s council approval of school consolidations follows a list of hundreds of millions of dollars in HVAC updates and paving passed in November, the district’s efforts to pay a half-a-half deferred maintenance bill -billion dollars. The board also voted at the time to add classrooms to six schools.

School closures:SCS set to close two schools, combine and expand others in early stages of new plan

Below are the changes proposed by SCS and approved by the Board on Tuesday evening:

  • Students who go to Shady Grove Elementary School will rather be divided between White Station Elementary Schoolabout 2 miles away, and Dexter K-8, a proposed combination of Elemental Dexterabout 7 miles away, and Dexter College.
  • Students who go to Alton Elementary School will rather go to AB Hill Elementary Schooljust under 2 miles away, a school that is part of iZone, a district program with additional supports for students.
  • To relocate Maxine Smith STEAM Academya college in the city center, to operate about 2 miles away in the same building as Eastern High School, which also has a STEM program. The relocation lightens the seating space for Maxine Smith STEAM Academy as good as Secondary collegea high-performing elective school with dual enrollment options at Christian Brothers University, sought after by families in the district
  • To relocate Northwest Prep Academy to the Airway High School building
  • To relocate Airway Success Academy to the neighborhood Norris Elemental Building
  • Expansion Mount Pisgah Secondary School to a middle school and high school by adding a new class of about 100 students. The school will emphasize STEM in a “middle school theme,” according to the district, a reference to the elective school offering dual-enrollment courses with Christian Brothers University.
  • Rezoning of some Ridgeway High School students at white station high schoola move the district says will “increase enrollment and recruitment of non-SCS students in the district.”
  • Create an agro-STIM program to Bolton Secondary Schoolwhich will require an application process for students wishing to participate

At the April presentation, the district offered to develop or sell the Shady Grove Elementary and Northwest Prep properties, among four others. Alton Elementary would become an early childhood headquarters, the proposed neighborhood at the time.

These upcoming facility plans were not part of the board presentation or board vote.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Laura Testino covers education and childhood issues for the trade appeal. Contact her at laura.testino@commercialappeal.com or 901-512-3763. Find her on Twitter: @LDTestino

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