Transition Team Will Discuss Closing 21 Memphis Schools

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The Transition Planning Commission will hear a recommendation Thursday from its Logistics Committee to close 21 schools in northwest and southwest Memphis prior to the start of the 2013-2014 school year.

The 21-member commission is moving toward a report to be submitted in June to the unified Shelby County Board of Education, which has final authority. The school-closings recommendation is in the meeting agenda released by the TPC on Wednesday.

In March the school board voted to close three Memphis elementary schools that have each lost at least 40 percent of their enrollment since 2002-2003 — Lakeview, Graceland, and Georgia Avenue.

The document says there is an opportunity to close 10 elementary schools, 7 middle schools, and 4 high schools in northwest and southwest Memphis, but it does not name them. The committee considered utilization, academic performance, building condition and geographic proximity.

The savings is estimated at $19 million in the general fund and $2 million in the special fund. There would be a one-time cost of $1.3 million for relocation and decommissioning the buildings.

The Logistics Committee summary says there are 65 overcrowded schools (over 100 percent utilization), primarily in northeast and southeast Memphis. It says new construction already planned may not relieve overcrowding and there could be a need for enrollment shifts near Cordova and additional charter schools.

The committee recommends an annual review process because "declining enrollment trends will continue to change (the) landscape and may necessitate more closures in the future."

The full Transition Planning Commission meets at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Shelby County Code Enforcement Office in Shelby Farms.

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