Sources: Herenton readying proposal to close some city schools
Action News 5 has learned Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton wants to save the city money by closing some Memphis City Schools.
Sources at Memphis City Hall say the bomb Herenton plans to drop during an address regarding Memphis City Schools next Tuesday is to urge the Memphis City Council to close low enrollment schools to help balance the budget.
School board members have not heard the mayor's plans, but board member Stephanie Gatewood said closing low enrollment schools has not worked in the past.
"We'll have to pick up the costs somewhere," she said. "So, are we going to transport those students and have to pay additional bus costs? So in the long run, what are we really saving?"
Most low enrollment schools are located in north and south Memphis. Orleans Elementary, for example, is under 50% capacity, with just 283 students.
"I think that's a call for the upcoming superintendent and the school board to make," board member Martavius Jones said.
Residents say people are moving out of some south Memphis neighborhoods at breakneck speed, leaving schools behind with not enough students to fill them. However, at Orleans Elementary, while enrollment is low, the school is in good standing.
"A lot of these things right now, in my opinion, are just a distraction and I think they also discourage qualified candidates from applying for Superintendent of Memphis City Schools," Jones said.
Past Memphis City School district considerations before closing low enrollment schools included neighborhood housing trends, the building's condition, and its proximity to a neighboring school.
Thursday, a Herenton spokesperson said the mayor has not revealed any details of his upcoming address on Memphis City Schools, and was unable to confirm upcoming school closure proposals.