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Some SCS parents unsure of children's future in district amid elementary school closures

Parents weighed in one day after the Memphis-Shelby County Schools board voted to close Shady Grove and Alton Elementary next school year.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Wednesday, Shelby County Schools parents weighed in after the SCS school board voted to close Shady Grove Elementary and Alton Elementary next school year.

The decisions will impact hundreds of students and dozens of teachers, who will now have to learn and teach in a brand new environment in just a few short months.

While SCS leaders defended the move - saying it will transition more students closer to home and maximizing resources - parents at those schools were outraged and are considering taking their kids out of the district altogether.

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"When I told my daughter that she had to move schools, I had to keep her home from school today - she was that upset," Shady Grove parent Kelly Saiz said.

"When I told my son this morning and he just wailed," Shady Grove Parent Leslie Stewart added.

Those parent fought back tears Wednesday afternoon, just hours after the Memphis-Shelby County Schools Board voted to close that school and Alton Elementary in South Memphis next school year.

"I need to think exactly what is my next step. It's very difficult decision, especially because they treat my son like a family member," Shady Grove Elementary Parent Juan Sanchez said.

Those with the district said they decided to close Shady Grove Elementary, in part, because so few of its students live nearby.

Now, 5% of the student body will be zoned to White Station Elementary, and the rest to Dexter Elementary in Cordova, which will be repurposed as a K-8 school.

"With this opportunity that we have in having more students, more programming at Dexter is to provide a greater, richer experience for students - and they won't have to travel 40 minutes across town to get it," M-SCS Deputy Superintendent For Strategic Operations & Finance Dr. John Barker said.

As for Alton Elementary, those students will be transferred to A.B. Hill Elementary, less than two miles away.

"What we have got is a school that is close by to Alton. We've got an opportunity to move all those students over and focus resources," Dr. Barker added.

Dr. Barker said the district will prioritize transferring the affected teachers to new schools, an option parents also have for their children outside of their new school zone.

"Transfers are still very much appreciated and welcomed and accommodated as much as we can," Dr. Barker added.

But some Shady Grove Elementary parents said that option isn't good enough. With their school shutting down in May, they're now pondering a move out of M-SCS entirely.

"My husband and I are actually considering moving towards Germantown or Collierville to get out the Shelby County School District, is the honest truth," Stewart said.

"I went today and I toured a private school and I think that's the route we are going to go, is a private school," Saiz said.

It's still undecided what will become of those soon to be vacant buildings.

Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray said more proposals about school closures and consolidations will likely be unveiled during his state of the district next month.

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