Closed schools could add to Memphis' blight - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Closed schools could add to Memphis' blight

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A couple of signs stand as the only remains of Graceland Elementary in Whitehaven. A couple of signs stand as the only remains of Graceland Elementary in Whitehaven.
But buildings often sit idle, such as the old Prospect Elementary, creating potential blight in what are, in many cases, already blighted areas. But buildings often sit idle, such as the old Prospect Elementary, creating potential blight in what are, in many cases, already blighted areas.
The uncertain future of school buildings is a major reason one board member voted against closing schools. The uncertain future of school buildings is a major reason one board member voted against closing schools.
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    (WMC-TV) - Located in either the Northwest or Southwest regions of Memphis, 13 schools sit on the proposed closure list. The Shelby County School District blames, in part, population shifts for under-enrollment. TheMore >>
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(WMC-TV) - Many fear empty school buildings will lead to more blight in the city of Memphis. The Shelby County School District board voted to closed certain schools Tuesday.

Neighbors say the old Melrose High School building in Orange Mound proves to be the worst that can happen to a school after it closes.

"The police patrol it the best they can, but you can only do so much ... be better to have it gone," said neighbor Semmie Askew.

Other closed schools have been demolished. A couple of signs stand as the only remains of Graceland Elementary in Whitehaven.

The uncertain future of school buildings is a major reason one board member voted against closing schools.

"There was a mis-communication," said SCS board member Teresa Jones. "I thought there was a repurpose plan, but the superintendent indicated that was still in process."

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said Tuesday that they do not have a concrete repurposing plan for any of the buildings.

There have been old school building success stories like the old Lenox School, which was turned into apartments. But buildings often sit idle, such as the old Prospect Elementary, creating potential blight in what are, in many cases, already blighted areas.

"Maybe we should have a policy that addresses how long we allow these buildings to stay vacant before we take some action," said Jones.

District leaders have met with the city of Memphis about repurposing school buildings. In some cases, charter schools may seek to use them.

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