Community speaks out against possible closures - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Community speaks out against possible closure of 13 Shelby County schools

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In December of 2013, the Shelby County School Board voted to put 13 schools on a list for possible closure. In December of 2013, the Shelby County School Board voted to put 13 schools on a list for possible closure.
All of the schools are mainly in the northwest and southwest parts of the district. All of the schools are mainly in the northwest and southwest parts of the district.
The Shelby County School District's plan to possibly close as many as 13 schools started with a district-wide meeting Thursday. The Shelby County School District's plan to possibly close as many as 13 schools started with a district-wide meeting Thursday.
SHELBY COUNTY, TN -

(WMC-TV) - The Shelby County School District's plan to possibly close as many as 13 schools started with a district-wide meeting Thursday.

Students, parents, and residents who love their community schools were fired up about the possible closures in the crowded meeting.

In December of 2013, the SCS Board voted to put 13 schools on a list for possible closure. The elementary schools are Alcy, Graves, Gordon, Klondike, Riverview, Shannon, and Westhaven. The middle schools are Cypress, Corry, Lanier, Riverview, and Vance. Northside is the only high school on the list.

All of the schools are mainly in the northwest and southwest parts of the district.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson is holding a series of public hearings before presenting a final list of school closures to the school board. He says these schools made the list mainly due to under-enrollment and under-performance.

"We don't just have an innate desire to close schools," said Hopson, who outlined the data that put 13 schools on the proposed closure list. "Education for a whole lot of our babies is the last best chance to change their lot in life. So, we're not providing a quality education."

Underutilization is another big issue for the district. For instance, only 293 students currently attend Northside High School, which was built for 1,063.

"The number of kids are just not there," said Hopson.

People in a lot of these communities are fighting hard to get their schools off the list. Back in October, students and parents at Westhaven Elementary held a rally to support their school.

At the Vance Avenue Youth Development Center's after school program, Director Barbara Nesbit offers meals, tutoring, and hope to hundreds of at-risk children.

"We feed 200 plus children per day [who] come through these doors," she said. "It's a safe haven 'cause if the children weren't here, they would be hanging out on the street corners. We don't have much here, but we have a lot of love."

Right outside the doors of the modest safe haven sits Vance Middle School, which is on the district's chopping block.

"Please don't close Vance Middle School," said Nesbit.

Nesbit says this already struggling inner city neighborhood will suffer a tremendous blow if the school board votes to close the school.

"These children need that school. I think they're making a mistake," she said.

Even people who do not have school-age children are concerned about the closures, because some say closing a school will cause property values to go down.

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