- About Us
- Our Programs
- Grant Information
- News and Resources
Jane Roberts - The Commercial Appeal -
The unnamed elementary school being constructed in Southeast Memphis will open the same day the city and county schools merge, an omen in fast-growing Hickory Hill.
Wednesday morning, with spring sun dazzling off glossy hard hats, Memphis City Schools officials and community leaders picked up shovels and dug in, a formality on the 12-acre site at Belle Forest and Ridgeway where construction of the $14.9 million school is well under way.
"Lots and lots of babies are being born in this area," said Shelby County School Board member Betty Mallott.
The birth rate has created a bubble of elementary-age schoolchildren in Southeast Memphis straining 11 of its 12 elementary schools.
A 20-classroom addition in the works at Cromwell Elementary will help in the western stretches but will do nothing for Oak Forest and Germanshire elementaries, bursting at the seams on the east.
"We'll rezone the elementary schools in the area about this time next year," said Terrence Brown, southeast regional superintendent for Memphis City Schools.
The school is being built to accommodate 1,200 students. It is expected to open at capacity, eliminating crowding in the southeast and some bus routes.
"We're looking forward to another project that comes in on time and most importantly, under budget," said board chairman Billy Orgel, filling in for Supt. Kriner Cash, who was in Charlotte, N.C., interviewing for the superintendent's job.
The new school will be within walking distance for most students.
It is also underbudget now because the district reused architectural plans from Riverwood Elementary -- which opened last fall -- and fit the project to the land contours, including a gentle slope on the northwest corner being preserved for an outdoor amphitheater.
Dianne Love, with US Making It Happen in Hickory Hill, is one of eight community members advising the school board on what neighbors want.
At the top of her list? "We want the amphitheater used for community activities," she said. "We'd also like to see green education."
The school will have a community room set aside for neighborhood use, a conduit to get the public involved in schools, Brown said.
"We've made a commitment to bring the community in as much as we can."
-- Jane Roberts: (901) 529-2512