The JPS Board of Trustees discussed plans to close or consolidate 16 schools last week. During a meeting on Monday, Superintendent Dr. Errick Greene emphasized that the proposed closures are not performance-based but are due to a decline in enrollment, facility infrastructure issues and staffing issues.
“This is a very real issue that, unfortunately, we can’t prolong this anymore. We’ve got to talk about it. Cities all across the nation are dealing with this same issue, trying to understand how we best serve our scholars and families even as we see a decline. People leaving the city or going to charter schools or private schools or wherever they’re going, but leaving city school districts,” stated Greene.
The superintendent said JPS has lost more than 9,500 students since the 2015-16 school year, and there are more than 400 staffing vacancies. He added that closing or consolidating those schools could save more than $17 million per year and more than $174 million in renovation costs.
There is only one high school on the list of potential closures; Wingfield High. Tyler Arrington, who is a senior football player and Mister Wingfield High, said he’s nervous about what this could mean for his younger teammates.
“Our coach, that’s their head coach right now, is doing everything he can for us to get us out there. That may not be their head coach next year. And if it’s not their head coach, then what are they working for? All that they worked for is going to waste. Wingfield is a good school. They care about their students, and they have their own ways of helping us,” said Arrington.
There were also concerns about the proposal of merging Wingfield students with Jim Hill or Forest Hill.
“Merging Wingfield to Forest Hill and to Jim Hill will definitely increase the violence. April 30 at the Mudbug Festival, there was a shooting that occurred. I think eight people shot and one dead. That was a situation that stemmed from Wingfield and Jim Hill schools,” said Valencia White, an alumna of Wingfield High.
Greene said the safety of the students is a top priority. The Board is still making changes to their plans. The recommendations on closures, facility investments and repurposing will be finalized by December 5, 2023.
Monday’s meeting was the first of three community forums before the plans are finalized. The next meeting will be on Monday, October 30 at Callaway High School at 6:00 p.m.