Shelby County’s superintendent Dorsey E. Hopson, II addressed concerns about planned school closures in Memphis today in a letter addressed to the public.
The administration announced at the school board meeting Tuesday night that it will move toward closing Riverview Elementary, Vance Middle, Cypress Middle and Klondike Elementary schools before the 2014-15 school year.
Westwood and Carver High Schools will remain open and will serve students in grades 6-8 in order to absorb students from some of the closed middle schools. They were previously set to close, but administrators changed their minds after evaluating the schools’ test scores and listening to community concerns. Carver is likely to become part of the state-run Achievement School District.
There are now 13 schools set to be closed next summer.
In his letter, Hopson emphasized that his administration picked the new schools because of their declining enrollment and low test scores.
“In the end, this is not about the buildings we are recommending for closure, but about the lives of the students inside those buildings. Low enrollment and poor academic performance do not serve our children. As a community we are all responsible for the conditions inside all of our schools. So while the process of school closure can be painful, it would be more painful to leave those schools the way they are.”
The district plans to hold a series of community meetings about the closures.
Declining enrollment and a mix of academic and logistical factors have led urban school districts around the country to close large numbers of schools in recent years. Planning and executing closings in Memphis and elsewhere has proven to be contentious and complex.