New plan could save Jubilee Catholic Schools

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A new plan in the works could save nine schools the Catholic Diocese of Memphis decided to close.

After 20 years of serving Memphis low-income families, the Jubilee Schools' doors are set to close at the end of the 2018-2019 school year as the result of a lack of sustainable funding.

"I think it's a travesty for them to close the schools," said Darlene Glover, grandparent of a Memphis Catholic high school student.

New Day Incorporated, led by Christian Brothers President Dr. John Smarrelli, plans to open charter schools at Jubilee Catholic Schools' current locations.

"Our primary goal in forming this new network of charter schools, which will be called Compass Community Schools, is to continue providing an excellent educational experience for the community currently served by Jubilee Catholic Schools, although entirely independent from the Catholic Diocese," Smarrelli said. "We look forward to what the future holds for our network and the students and families we hope to soon serve."

This includes the following schools:

  • Compass Community School, Binghampton Campus
  • Compass Community School, Downtown Campus
  • Compass Community School, Frayser Campus
  • Compass Community School, Berclair Campus
  • Compass Community School, Hickory Hill Campus
  • Compass Community School, Midtown Campus
  • Compass Community School, Orange Mound
  • Compass Community School, South Memphis Campus
  • Compass Community School, Whitehaven Campus

The Diocese previously announced it would shut down its schools in 2019.

If approved, the schools would be tuition-free, open to all students, and not faith-based.

Glover said she is worried the charter schools might change the culture and success of the schools.

"I hope the powers that be have common sense," Glover said. "Why when something is going beautiful, why destroy it?"

But former superintendent Dr. Mary McDonald, who opened the previously closed Catholic schools, has faith in the educators trying to keep the schools open.

"There are people that are willing to step up to ensure that the great work of these schools in the inner city going to continue regardless of what that looks like is so important," McDonald said.

Those people are fighting to continue the education of Memphis's urban youth, despite losing its connection with the diocese.

Smarrelli is also part of the founding of Crosstown High School, the charter school in the Crosstown Concourse development that is scheduled to open next school year.

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