Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Between 16 and 31 MCS Schools to Close Next Year

The title feels a little inflammatory, but that's where we are in Memphis.

The Achievement School District is closing 10 schools.  They won't really say that's what they're doing, and they would argue that the school buildings will be in use to educate children.  But the ASD's "takeover" of 10 schools means that the staffs of 10 schools will be applying for new jobs for the 2013-14 school year.

The TPC recommended that the Shelby County School Board close 21 schools.  That would bring us to 31, and that is, admittedly, unlikely.

But Superintendent Kriner Cash has been clear that he thinks he will propose about a third of that number to be closed.  That puts us in the 6-8 range.

So while 31 closed Memphis schools would be an unlikely outlier, this community is looking at between 16 and 18 schools worth of staff looking for jobs.  That's a huge number of schools to close, and an unfortunate number of solidly middle class folks getting nervous.

At last night's School Board meeting, the group set a meeting for next Thursday to begin discussion about which schools to close.  Board Commissioner Tomeka Hart was a particularly strong voice in favor of disclosing the "possibles" list in advance of the meeting.  This was a very good step toward transparency in what has been a very murky process so far.  Dr. Cash is correct that issuing the list too early could cause more problems than it would solve, but Commissioner Hart was more correct when she argued that people need to know in advance of the meeting whether they need to show up.

Dr. Cash agreed to release the list on Monday.  The meeting will be on Thursday, Nov. 29 at 4 p.m.

The Board struggled, and went 'round and 'round on where to have the meeting.  Vice-chair Teresa Jones did her best to herd the cats.  The Board is correctly anticipating some resistance to the school closings, but decided that it was more trouble than it was worth to try to move the tv equipment to another larger location.  Space in the Board's TLA meeting room is somewhat limited.

I agree with Commissioner David Pickler when he says that the school district is not an employment service.  And if we were only talking about 6-8 schools - underenrolled schools where the students don't actually get all of the services they should because the school is too small and too expensive - that would be one thing.  But throw in the ASD, and there are just many more red flags raised due to the sheer number of schools being closed.

I hope for a robust discussion next Thursday.

6 comments:

  1. I agree a ruling would be a preferred outcome.

    WhitehavenOpinion

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  2. MCS lost $1 million after closing a school (reported in the following article). They do not have a good security policy in place, so when a school is closed, it is very likely that the building will be attacked by vandals. If they close these schools without any clear, better security policy in place, how do they know they will not lose $1 million per building?

    http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/aug/01/vandals-damage-vacant-school-costing-mcs-1/

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  3. 'Concerns were raised among some board members that the public would not be given the information they need in time to prepare for the meeting.

    "We need to send a list (of proposed schools to be closed) out now," Commissioner Tomeka Hart argued. "We can't keep a community that has no clue what we're talking about waiting. … I don't understand why we can't be transparent."

    "We can do that," Cash replied, later adding that the information would be released on Monday. "…We're going to be recommending a slate of schools, the reasons for and the reasons against (closing)," he said.'

    They haven't released the list of schools and I've somehow missed it, have they?

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    1. Watching in MemphisNovember 26, 2012 at 4:34 PM

      Nothing yet - as of 4:30 p.m.

      Will take some time for the media to write the story and post it, but they'll write as quick as they can once they get the list . . .

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  4. Any update on the lists of schools to be closed?

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    1. Watching in MemphisFebruary 27, 2013 at 1:07 PM

      No update on the names of the schools to be closed, but we now do have some more information that there will be more schools closed. Here's my post: http://schoolingmemphis.blogspot.com/2013/02/last-minute-school-closings-coming.html

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