TPC wants to hear from parents about school closures

TPC wants to hear from parents about school closures

(WMC-TV) - Six Memphis City schools are on the chopping block facing the real possibility of having to close their doors.  It has some parents concerned.

They are known as the Bluejays at Orleans Elementary, which is one of the six schools facing closure due to underutilization.

The members of the Transition Planning Commission say before anything happens, they want parents to have a voice in the matter.

Nya Dawson is the mother of a special needs student at Orleans Elementary.

"I really don't understand why they would close down," said Dawson, "I really like it. My son likes it."

She recently moved to the community where Orleans is in walking distance.

"I would really hate to see it leave because it's convenient for me," added Dawson.

For members of the TPC, it is not about convenience but, rather, cost.

A letter by Superintendents Kriner Cash and John Aitken revealed Humes, Coro Lake, White's Chapel, Orleans, Norris, and Gordon are all on the recommended list for closures.

Five of the schools are elementary schools. One is a middle school.  At this time, there are no high schools up for closure.

Humes could be turned into an art school for middle and high school students.

Although the list is now down to six schools, the TPC initially recommended the closure of 21 underutilized schools.

At a meeting Monday, Shelby County Unified School Boardmember Sara Lewis used Orleans as a model.

"Take Orleans School, how many of you know where Orleans school is?" asked Lewis.

Lewis noted that Orleans currently houses about 200 students at a 65 percent underutilization rate.

Students at Orleans would likely be transferred to Lincoln Elementary, which is newly renovated, also underutilized, and located less than one mile away.

Still, Dawson says if the planning commission wants to hear from parents, they can plan on hearing from her.

"I'm very active with the school so I will be there," said Dawson.

The Shelby County Unified School Board will hold a special called meeting to discuss the school closings Thursday, November 29 at 4 p.m. inside the Teaching and Learning Academy Auditorium.

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