Outgoing superintendent lays out consolidation plan to Shelby Co. Commission

Outgoing superintendent lays out consolidation plan to Shelby Co. Commission
Hopson at the Shelby County Commission meeting on Wednesday (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Shelby County Commissioners are sharing their concerns about a new plan by outgoing Superintendent Dorsey Hopson to close schools and shrink the district.

Hopson leaves his post in a little less than a month, but he said the issue is so important that he did not want to set up his successor to fail.

“One of the jokes in my circle is what do you call a superintendent who closes schools, a former superintendent you can't expect somebody coming in day one to pick up this battle,” Hopson said.

Hopson told county commissioners Wednesday the work on a district foot print analysis had been ongoing for a year.

Hopson said SCS has too many facilities and the deferred maintenance on the buildings is at least $500 million, many of which are in disrepair and in such bad shape they could be demolished.

His proposal calls for building 10 schools, five new additions and the closure of 28 schools. Under his tenure, SCS has already closed 26 schools.

“Part of the thinking was let’s make sure the community is aware of this so you don’t saddle somebody new or task them with having to do such a controversial or politically charged project,” Hopson said.

Commissioner Tami Sawyer said she’s already heard concerns since news of Hopson’s proposal broke earlier this week.

“Fear is going to destroy any momentum you might get,” Sawyer said.

District leaders say under the plan, they’d save roughly $100 million in deferred maintenance.

Commissioner Edmund Ford Jr., a former SCS teacher, said he wants more research to be done on the plan.

“I haven’t seen everything yet, it appears as if there’s still a question about the deferred maintenance and it possibly not necessarily decreasing,” Ford said.

SCS officials say 56 percent of their schools are underutilized or over capacity.

If all these closings go through, SCS would shrink from 140 schools to 123.

To view Hopson’s presentation, click here.

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