MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – The debate's begun over a plan to close more than 20 Memphis schools. Only on 5, a secret list adds fuel to the fire.
Memphis schools flagged for possible closure by the group guiding consolidation are concentrated in the Northwest and Southwest parts of the city and have been nameless, until now.
A handwritten list includes many names you'll recognize, like Graceland Elementary, Southside Middle, and Westwood High Schools.
"We're coming to the point, we're coming to the day, to the school meeting where all of it's going to blow up," Shelby County School Board member Rev. Kenneth Whalum, Jr. said.
Underutilized schools were identified by the Transition Planning Commission, a group school board member Kenneth Whalum, Jr. believes is focused solely on the bottom line.
"This is Memphis, Jason. This is urban America. You can't do that," he said. "I would not rely on that to be the ones to be closed."
Board member Martavius Jones, who also sits on the TPC disputes the list, but does believe the district can no longer afford a surplus of schools filled with fewer and fewer students.
"We just don't have the population in some of the areas and we may better use funding that we have, if we close some," Jones said.
Public meetings must be held before any closings occur, providing an important opportunity Whalum says, for parents.
"They better get to these school board meetings, they better start raising hell, because if they don't it's a done deal," Whalum said.
A school district spokesperson said there is no finalized list of school closures at this time. She said even discussing the issue right now would be premature.