Shelby County Schools’ outgoing leader wants to consolidate 28 Memphis schools into 10 new buildings.
Superintendent Dorsey Hopson on Tuesday unveiled his long-awaited plan to avoid massive deferred maintenance costs on the district’s crumbling campuses.
If implemented, the plan could take up to 10 years, impact some 15,000 students, and cost the district at least $700 million.
“We’re building schools. We’re taking kids in the inner city who have been traditionally underserved and putting them in brand new learning facilities,” Hopson said, presenting the proposal to the Shelby County Schools board, which has the final say on school closures.
Hopson, who leaves office next month for a job at insurance giant Cigna, is proposing all but two of the closed buildings be demolished — saving the district about $102 million in deferred maintenance on those structures. Shelby County Schools business operations chief Beth Phalen estimated the consolidation would also save the district between $15 million and $20 million annually and said that money could then be in the classroom.
The proposal echoes a model Hopson and county leaders have favored — building new neighborhood schools, even if that means long-standing schools nearby would have to close. One such example is Westhaven Elementary, which opened in 2016. It combined three elementary schools and quickly became overcrowded, as families sent their students to the new building after years of choosing other schools. Westhaven Elementary was one of two schools in the district that the state has recognized two years in a row for high academic growth.
For context on previous school closures and how Shelby County Schools got here, read our primer.
Before putting the Hopson’s plan into motion, Shelby County Schools staff will propose rezoning 22 schools for next school year. That would give some 3,200 students priority to attend a school closer to home. (You can view rezoning maps here by selecting a map and clicking “open.”)
Board members Tuesday had a slew of questions about plans for individual schools, but also wondered how academic and extracurricular offerings would be maintained under the new arrangement.
“What was at the school they left and how will that be transferred to where they’re going?” said board member Teresa Jones. Hopson said that would be considered before consolidating the schools.
Notably, the plan does not include recommendations for how to merge schools with those in the state-run Achievement School District. Hopson said he spoke with state leaders yesterday about “renewing commitment” to collaborate on future building plans for the next phase.
The district would also need buy-in from the county commission, which funds new construction, and Hopson is scheduled to present the plan to the commissioners Wednesday.
Phalen said the analysis of the district’s facilities is not complete and still needs to address alternative schools, technical education, and state-run schools.
Below is a list of the schools that would feed the new ones being proposed:
- Build a new Woodstock K-8: This is an updated version of a previous recommendation Hopson presented in 2016 to build a K-12 school at the site. The plan would consolidate all of E.E. Jeter K-8, Northaven Elementary, Lucy Elementary, and part of Woodstock Middle into the new building.
- Build a new Raleigh-Egypt K-12 campus: Consolidate the rest of Woodstock Middle, part of Barret’s Chapel K-8, and all of Bolton High, Trezevant High, and Raleigh Egypt Middle-High, Lucy Elementary, and Egypt Elementary.
- Build a new elementary in Orange Mound: Consolidate Bethel Grove Elementary, Dunbar Elementary, and Cherokee Elementary into a new building.
- Build a new high school in the Parkway Village area: Consolidate all of Wooddale High, Sheffield High, and Oakhaven High into the new building.
- Build a new JP Freeman Optional School with the existing student population.
- Build a new elementary school in Hickory Hill: Consolidate all of Crump and Ross elementary schools into a new building.
- Build a new high school in Cordova or convert Mt. Pisgah into a 6-12: Some students from Cordova High, Kingsbury High, White Station High, Germantown High, and Bolton High would attend the new high school. For the 6-12 option, some students from Bolton High, Germantown High, Germantown Middle, Cordova High, and Cordova Middle would be moved to Mt. Pisgah Middle.
- And two new school buildings, Alcy Elementary and Goodlett Elementary, are already in process. The new Goodlett Elementary would bring in students from Knight Road Elementary, along with some from Sheffield and Getwell elementary schools. The new Alcy Elementary would bring in students from Charjean and Magnolia elementary schools.
These schools would close and consolidate into existing buildings that are in better condition:
- Consolidate Alton Elementary into A.B. Hill Elementary.
- Consolidate Westwood High into Mitchell High.
- Consolidate Hamilton Middle into Hamilton Elementary, making it a K-8 school.
- Consolidate Georgian Hills Middle into Grandview Heights and build an addition.
- Consolidate Scenic Hills Elementary into Lucie E. Campbell Elementary and build an addition.
- Consolidate Oakshire Elementary into Whitehaven Elementary and build an addition.
- Consolidate Gardenview Elementary into Winchester Elementary and build an addition.
- Close Shady Grove Elementary and rezone students to Dexter Elementary and White Station Elementary.
All closed schools except Shady Grove Elementary and Ross Elementary would be demolished under the proposed plan.
Below is a map of the proposed new buildings and school closures (zoom in!). Further down is the district’s full presentation.