Will SCS school closures add to Memphis' blight? - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Will SCS school closures add to Memphis' blight?

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (FOX13) -

While the Shelby County Schools board of education approved the closure of nine schools Tuesday evening, there is no solid plan for what will happen in those buildings.

Most are already in blighted neighborhoods.

For example: Vance Middle School. The fear is this building, and the others, will add to the city's blight.

MORE: Reaction to closure of 9 SCS schools
MORE: SCS board approves Hopson's recommendations on closings

Nine schools that will be closed are in struggling neighborhoods in the Memphis core. Councilwoman Janis Fullilove said she's reached out to the SCS administration but has not heard back.

Tuesday night the board of education voted unanimously to close the nine schools and combine Riverview Elementary and Riverview Middle schools to create a kindergarten through eighth grade school.

There are no plan as to what will happen to these schools, but Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said he will have recommendations by the end of the school year.

City of Memphis Chief Administrative Officer George Little said the city's administration has been in contact with Shelby County Schools on options for those buildings.

"We've had general discussions with the schools about possible closings," Little said. "The short answer is the schools are under some obligation to maintain those buildings at least at an acceptable level."

Converting them to charter schools is one option routinely brought up. Councilwoman Fullilove thinks other options should be explored.

"Nothing is being done," she said. "What's going to happen to those buildings is the same thing that has happened to properties within the African-American community already?  There are abandoned properties, and what happens when you have abandoned properties, you have more blight."

Parents fought hard at Tuesday's school board meeting, hoping the schools would not be closed, but for the most part, their voices were not heard.

Councilwoman Fullilove said now it's time to fight to keep those buildings from becoming more blight.

"There's going to have to be a Plan B because I would like to see people within those communities where those schools have closed put pressure on the administration," she said.

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