SHELBY COUNTY, TN (WMC) - Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson is set to lay out a district footprint plan to board members on Tuesday that could call for school consolidations and closures.
WMC5 reached out to the superintendent and SCS on Monday for specific details on the plan but didn't hear back.
A new county commissioner said the topic is difficult to discuss but critical to the district's long-term future.
“I keep saying we have too many buildings, too many buildings that are in bad shape for the number of students we have,” Hopson said last month.
Hopson vowed in late November he’d come through with a plan to trim the footprint of SCS.
“I want to make sure I get that information, digest it make sure I share it with the board and with the public,” Hopson said.
Hopson and staff will make the presentation Tuesday to the board’s capital needs and facilities committee, then Wednesday to the county commission’s education committee.
Michael Whaley, a new county commissioner, former teacher and school leader, is committee chair.
“It is incredibly difficult to have these conversations around school closures and consolidations when you're talking about schools rooted in their communities,” Whaley said.
Enrollment in SCS has declined since the merger of the district with Memphis City Schools and the subsequent creation of municipal school districts.
The district’s most recent budget presentation shows a footprint of 202 schools, some of which Hopson has indicated are too inefficient to keep operating. That same report mentions upwards of $475 million in deferred maintenance.
Heating issues have plagued the district this winter, most notably shutting down class at White Station High School in November. A rat infestation at Kirby High School forced SCS to close it for the semester and relocate students.
Whaley said he believes a facilities strategic plan by SCS is the best way forward.
“If we get to a place where we’re able to have a more efficient school district we are in turn able to reinvest those dollars within the classroom so our kids have more social workers, counselors, highly qualified teachers,” Whaley said.
Hopson's last day is Jan. 8, 2019.
He's taking a job with insurance company CIGNA, so he will not be the person to push a right-sizing plan forward.
That will fall with his replacement and the SCS board.