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JPS voted to close four elementary schools

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The Board of Trustees for Jackson Public Schools voted to close four elementary schools; Brown, French, George, and Woodville Heights, at its regular meeting on March 6, 2018.

 The vote was taken after a recommendation from the District based on the results of a feasibility study conducted by the administration into the consolidation or closing of schools. The District conducted several community meetings in recent weeks at the affected schools to share the study and seek feedback from teachers, parents, and staff.

 The increased costs to maintain aging buildings, school architecture design, combined with decreased state funding and a decline in student enrollment led the District to conduct the study. The District looked at schools with approximately 200 students or less and schools with costly infrastructure repairs.

The study, which included projected cost savings, transportation, staffing, food services, and exceptional education services, revealed the following:

·      Brown Elementary–193 students, 13 teachers, 23 support staff

·      French Elementary–200 students, 16 teachers, 21 support staff

·      George Elementary–129 students, 11 teachers, 11 support staff

·      Woodville Heights Elementary–Costs for repairs approaching $4 million

Brown Elementary was originally constructed in 1962 and has a projected cost for repairs of about $4.38 million. The school’s students will attend Galloway Elementary School.

French Elementary was built in 1951 and currently needs $2.73 million in capital improvements. The school’s students will be transferred to Lake Elementary and Raines Elementary schools.

George Elementary was originally built in 1907. The school needs nearly $2.75 million in repairs and renovations. Students at George will attend Isable and Casey Elementary Schools.

Although enrollment at Woodville Heights Elementary was over 300 students, the study revealed the school needs very expensive improvements. The school was built in 1969, and repair and renovations costs are projected at nearly $4 million. With the corridors located outside of the main building, the school’s design presents some unique challenges. Students must go outside each time they transfer from class-to-class and to the cafeteria.The school’s students will attend Bates, Oak Forest, and Timberlawn Elementary Schools.

Transportation and exceptional education services will be provided to all students relocated to other school sites. Teachers and staff members of closed schools will be extended opportunities to fill vacancies at other schools and offices across the District.

The District will continue to collaborate with stakeholders over the next few months to determine how the buildings can be transformed into community assets. The schools will remain opened until the 2018-2019 school year.

The District conducted a similar study in 2017 that led to Board approval of the consolidation of Poindexter Elementary and Barr Elementary schools this school year.

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