11/08/2012 12:04 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Tennessee Achievement District To Take Over 10 More Memphis City Schools

Ten more Memphis City Schools will be run by charters or the state through the Achievement School District next fall.

Staff at schools in Frayser, North Memphis and the southwest corner of the city got the word in meetings with ASD staff Monday and Wednesday. The teachers were invited to join the ASD or look elsewhere for jobs.

The schools are all in the bottom 5 percent in the state. They are: Graves Elementary, Norris Elementary, Alcy Ball Elementary, Corry Middle, Cherokee Elementary, Hanley Elementary, Shannon Elementary, Treadwell Elementary, Caldwell-Guthrie Elementary, Klondike Elementary, Cypress Middle, Georgian Hills Middle, Denver Elementary and Whitney Elementary.

There are 14 in all, but only 10 will actually convert to the ASD. The others are expected to remain under the authority of the unified Memphis and Shelby County school board.

A panel of citizens serving on the Achievement Advisory Council will recommend which schools should be taken over and which charter operators might best serve the community. ASD leaders will make the final decision and announce the matches Dec. 17.

Officials are hosting a series of meetings Thursday to explain the matching process and gather public comment about what Memphians want the schools to be.

"The community might tell us they have been working for years on leveraging arts interests or that they are most interested in science and technology," said Malika Anderson, ASD chief portfolio officer.

Meanwhile, a principal at one of the affected schools says her staff is "livid" because the students showed progress on the state report card released last week.

The ASD met with teachers first "out of respect," said Elliot Smalley, ASD spokesman. "We wanted to give them a heads up about the potential change and strongly encourage the teachers and others interested in our process to contact us directly about job opportunities."

Six schools likely will be run by charters. They may take over the whole school or phase in grades over time. Four others will likely be run by the state, like Frayser Elementary, Corning Elementary and Westside Middle in Frayser are now. Those schools came under ASD authority this year, and will be in the district for five years. In that time, they are expected to make enough improvement to be in the top 25 percent of schools statewide.

All children living in the attendance areas will be assigned to the schools. The charters must serve every child zoned to the school.

California-based Aspire Public Schools, one of that state's highest performing systems, will take over two elementaries. KIPP Memphis, already serving fifth-graders at Cypress, will also take over a middle school and an elementary. Gestalt Community Schools is approved to run two elementaries.

The ASD, a shapeless district that includes the lowest performing schools in the state, began this fall, with six schools; five are in Memphis, one is in Nashville.

Next year, the district will triple in size, serving 18 schools statewide, including 15 from Memphis named this week. The year after that, the ASD will expand again to include 35 schools. Statewide, 83 schools qualify to be in the ASD; 69 are in Memphis.

Locally, the schools under ASD authority will be separate from the merged district for five years. All tax dollars to support the schools in that time frame will flow to the ASD.

"What most districts are only beginning to talk about, we are executing," MCS Supt. Kriner Cash said in a letter to staff in the schools scheduled to change. "Together, we are leading the way in education reform nationally, and we should be proud and excited about what lies ahead."

Few city schools teachers joined the ASD this year. In Corning Elementary, for instance, all of the teachers are new. After the first year, ASD teachers are paid based on growth their students make, not on seniority or advanced degrees.

The ASD has scheduled meetings this week and next to talk about the process. From 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 13, all the charter operators will make presentations at Fogelman Center at the University of Memphis. Parents and others will be able to speak individually to the charter operators.

"What we really want to do is empower our community to be strong partners with their own schools. To do that, they have to feel respected by our charter operators," Anderson said. "We are giving our community lots of opportunities to be engage with operators and see how the operators respond to them."

Underperforming schools

These 14 Memphis schools are in the bottom 5 percent in the state. Ten of them will become part of the Achievement School District next fall:

Graves Elementary

Norris Elementary

Alcy Ball Elementary

Corry Middle

Cherokee Elementary

Hanley Elementary

Shannon Elementary

Treadwell Elementary

Caldwell-Guthrie Elementary

Klondike Elementary

Cypress Middle

Georgian Hills Middle

Denver Elementary

Whitney Elementary

Achievement district meetings

** Thursday:

5:30-7:30 p.m., Pursuit of God Church, 3171 Signal St.

5:30-7:30 p.m., Sexton Community Center, 1235 Brown Ave.

** Monday:

5:30 to 7 p.m., Hamilton Community Center, 1363 Person Ave

5:30 to 7 p.m., Orange Mound Community Center, 2572 Park

5:30 to 7 p.m., St. Paul Neighborhood Center, 2124 E. Holmes

** Tuesday:

5:30-8:30 p.m., Operator Community Night, Fogelman Center, University of Memphis ___

(c)2012 The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)

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