Tennessee’s largest school system will hold a series of community meetings beginning next week to seek public input for its plan to right-size a district with too many schools and too few students.

The nine meetings — one in each school board member’s district — will focus on creating solutions to Shelby County Schools’ challenges before the release of its long-awaited footprint analysis, scheduled for later this month.

With about 22,000 empty seats and enrollment that continues to decline, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson has said the district will have to close up to 24 schools over the next five years. (See Chalkbeat’s report on 25 schools at risk.) At least 21 district-run schools already have been shuttered since 2012.

A website announcement of the “Greater Schools, Greater Community” meetings trumpeted the district’s progress toward its strategic goals known as Destination 2025, but acknowledged that “some of our schools are struggling to keep pace.”

“Some schools will have to close, merge or be transformed in order to achieve the optimal conditions for high quality education,” the announcement says. “But, if a child’s school is going to be closed or transformed, parents should be assured that the next school will provide their children with better opportunities to learn and grow.”

The meetings, with their respective school board member, are scheduled for:

  • 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17, at Ed Rice Community Center, 2907 N. Watkins St. (Stephanie Love)
  • 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17, at Cordova Library, 8457 Trinity Road (Scott McCormick)
  • 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19, at Whitehaven Library, 4120 Millbranch Road (Shante Avant)
  • 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19, at White Station Middle School, 5465 Mason Road (Billy Orgel)
  • 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19, at Gaisman Community Center, 4221 Macon Road (Teresa Jones)
  • 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, at Poplar-White Station Library, 5094 Poplar Ave. (Mike Kernell)
  • 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, at Bruce Elementary School, 581 S. Bellevue Blvd. (Chris Caldwell)
  • 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, at Hickory Ridge Towne Center, 6075 Winchester Road (Kevin Woods)
  • 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, at Oakhaven High School, 3125 Ladbrook Road (Miska Clay Bibbs)