This article originally appeared in The Memphis Daily News Photo Above: Andrew J. Breig
Shelby County Schools wants to open a high
school at Crosstown Concourse. SCS superintendent Dorsey Hopson confirmed the
school district’s interest Wednesday, Nov. 18.
“We’ve spoken with some of the local funders
about putting together some plan to ensure that there are some high-quality
options there,” Hopson said. “There are a number of different ways that we’re
thinking about it. But absolutely we would love to be a part of it.”
The term “high-quality” could mean an optional
school or citywide school with open attendance.
Crosstown Concourse co-leader Todd Richardson told The Daily News his project is
willing to work with Shelby County Schools and has had “lots of conversations”
about possible tenants for the school space.
“We’re still at the very beginning stages to
determine the best route for this unique opportunity,” he said by email.
The preliminary talks include the idea of a
Crosstown High School as part of a feeder pattern out of the Maxine Smith STEAM
Academy, a middle school with a science, technology, engineering, arts and
Christian Brothers University works with STEAM
Academy and Middle College High School, which is housed in the same building at 750 East Parkway S. CBU also is a partner in Crosstown
Concourse and likely would play a significant role in plans for a high school
at Crosstown, according to Richardson.
SCS board member Kevin Woods said
Crosstown is one option for the system.
“The board is looking at what’s going to be
the feeder pattern for the students at STEAM,” Woods said. “We would consider
Crosstown one of many options that we are considering as a feeder pattern for
Woods went on to say that SCS is evaluating
numerous options in an effort to strengthen existing schools.
“But also we have an opportunity to see what’s
possible at the Crosstown location as well,” he said. “If that opportunity
presents itself for us to create a high-performing option for our community,
then we think everybody would be better served by it.”
Richardson said Crosstown’s founders “always
envisioned” a ninth- through 12th-grade high school of 450 students “that would
take advantage of the arts resources prevalent in Midtown and the sciences
resources abundant in the Medical District.”
Gestalt Community Schools was an original
partner in the Crosstown redevelopment, but the charter school operator
announced last month it was pulling out of the project.
“We have planned for a high school from the
beginning of design,” he added. “We've dedicated a space in the building and
have addressed all related regulations and codes in the shell and core to make
Meanwhile, Hopson told a group of 150 educators
and civic leaders Wednesday that he hopes to secure private funding and
expertise from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to plot a detailed three-
to five-year long-range financial plan for the school system.
“What that means is looking at our potential
charter growth, looking at potential (Achievement School District) growth and
just making sure that we are aligned for long-term sustainability,” Hopson said
Tuesday, Nov. 18, after an education forum at the Salvation Army Kroc Center
hosted by the Lipscomb-Pitts Breakfast Club.
Shelby County Schools faces an estimated $72
million gap between projected expenses and projected revenue as it begins
planning for the next budget year.
“There’s really not a whole lot left to cut,”
Hopson said. “This is the first year where there don’t appear to be options
that don’t directly affect classrooms. There’s always discussion about closing
schools and what savings that may net, and we’ll look at that. But if we closed
every school that was less than 60 percent occupied, then that might net
somewhere around $9 million, which isn’t academically the right thing to do.”
The Galleon is curated and managed by Christian Brothers University, a Memphis-based university founded in the Lasallian tradition (a sect within the Catholic faith). Part of our founding mission is to uphold respect for all persons-regardless of political, religious, or social beliefs. As an institution, we take no stand on political matters; to do so would undermine our commitment to intellectual inquiry and thoughtful response to events taking place in our World by members of the CBU community.