MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - A group of Shelby County state legislators is fighting mad over plans to close 21 city schools. The group, made up of all Democrats from Memphis, say the plans are flawed, and they want everything to slow down until people and students have their say. Meanwhile, the city and county school districts are scheduled to merge in a little less than nine months.
Closing a neighborhood school in Memphis is always an emotional issue. People get mad, students get shipped around and closed school buildings often remain vacant and become nothing but eyesores.
It's happened before and the fears are it will happen again in a very big way.
Carver High School is one of the schools that might be on the list to be closed. Students and parents are already upset over the possibility it might shut down.
The school merger Transition Planning Committee said to save money, 21 schools that are at less than 80 percent capacity should be closed.
"What it appears to me is that there was a budget made up and then there was a strategy set to fit the budget. Putting the cart before the horse," stated State Representative G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis).
The thing that bothers Hardaway is Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Community Development Director Robert Lipscomb aren't part of a team deciding which schools need to be closed. It is supposed to be the decision of the Unified School Board, but Hardaway says all the things that can happen from closing a neighborhood school need to be studied.
"Let's go to the experts on this," he said. "That's the city of Memphis Mayor and the city of Memphis Housing and Community Development Director."
Nobody knows for certain the names of the schools on a closing list. They do know that if schools are kept open, it means it will cost more to operate the unified system.
State Representative Barbara Cooper (D-Memphis) says money isn't the issue. "I'm against closing when you don't know where the children are going. The parents and the children need to know where they're going to be educated."