The Jackson Public School District issued the following press release.
The increased costs of maintaining aged school buildings, a decrease in state funding and a decline in enrollment have led the Jackson Public School District to study the feasibility of consolidating some of its schools. In doing so, JPS looked at schools with approximately 150 students or less during this school year. Those schools included:
- Barr Elementary: 157 students
- George Elementary: 153 students
- Poindexter Elementary: 109 students
- Rowan Middle: 55 students to be enrolled during the 2017-2018
As part of a $150 million bond issue passed by the citizens of Jackson in 2006, Barr Elementary School received $4 million for building renovations which were recently completed. The improved physical condition of Barr makes it suitable for increasing its capacity to accommodate up to 200 students.
Additionally, Barr's designation as a school assisted the City of Jackson in securing $427,614 in federal funding as part of the Safe Routes to School Project through the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The City of Jackson is providing a 20 percent match for a total of $626,031 in federal funds. The project focuses on improving children's safety while walking and bicycling by building sidewalks, bicycle paths, and other pedestrian-friendly infrastructure. This project will not only improve the area surrounding the school, but it will provide students that want to walk or bike to school a safe path to do so.
As a result of these findings, the District is proposing to consolidate Poindexter with Barr. Poindexter's operating budget for the 2015-2016 school year was approximately $1.8 million. Savings from the consolidation of Poindexter with Barr will provide opportunities for the District to allocate resources to other areas of need as it relates to transportation, staffing, and academic support for students.
There will be no job losses as a result of this consolidation plan. Teachers and staff from Poindexter will first have opportunities to fill vacancies at Barr. Once those positions are filled, Poindexter employees will receive options to fill vacancies at other schools across the District.
The District will initially dedicate two buses for transporting students to and from Barr Elementary. Satellite cafeteria services will be provided by the JPS Food Service Department. Exceptional education classes will continue for students who receive those services. JPS counselors will provide the necessary emotional support for students during the transition.
"Our school district cannot continue to operate with over 60 buildings, a decline in student enrollment, and a decrease in state and federal funding," said Interim Superintendent Dr. Freddrick Murray. "We have to make some tough and unpopular decisions. However, we feel confident this is what must happen to improve education for our scholars."
The District will be sending approximately 55 remaining students at Rowan Middle School to Brinkley Middle School next school year. Rowan will become a full-time location for Re-engaging in Education for All to Progress, also known as R.E.A.P. The program is an alternative path to a high school diploma for students at risk of dropping out of school. It is geared toward helping students who are overaged and under credit.
The District has met and scheduled meetings with the parents and employees of the schools being proposed for consolidation. The District intends to present the Board of Trustees with a recommendation to vote on the consolidation in the next few weeks.
Kingfish note: This was going to happen sooner or later as JPS enrollment declines.
The Clarion-Ledger reported the enrollment for 2016-2017 is 26,948 students.