What is a school district to do when they realize that they have 22,000 empty seats and enrollment has continued to decline? This is what Tennessee’s largest school district, Shelby County, is facing. The district has come to the conclusion it cannot move forward with the number of schools it currently maintains.
The School board held 9 community meetings to get feedback from the public on how they should proceed to solidify the district, and make the district financially sound. In October the community meetings were held in each of the 9 districts that the school board member represented. The harsh reality is the district needs to close 24 school in the next 5 years. They have already closed 21 district run schools since 2012.
The latest batch of meetings and planned closures is all part of the district’s Destination 2025 Plan to enable the district to become more efficient by 2025. The plan is to ensure students receive the best possible education. An announcement on the website recently stated “Some schools will need to be closed, merge, or.. transformed in order to achieve optimal conditions for high quality education.” The fact is that some schools in the district are not achieving that currently and change must occur.
The results of the meetings this month will be reviewed by the school board, and a plan devised to close the schools that are not up to par with educational success. Shelby County School district is not the first district to face this reality and they certainly will not be the last. In the end ensuring that students get the very best education is the goal. If that mean consolidation, then it is a harsh reality that needs to done.