School Board approves ‘Vision 2020’ plans involving school closures


JACKSON, Tenn. — The Jackson-Madison County School Board made a decision Thursday night on a final Vision 2020 plan.

The board’s two votes closes five of the district’s 27 schools and has some parents and community members reeling.

It was a packed house at City Hall for the meeting, with school board members escorted in and out by officers and a large law enforcement presence in the room. Calling the atmosphere tense is an understatement.

“We recognize and acknowledge the disruption and the pain and the anguish these decisions we made cause, and we deeply regret that,” school board chairman Jim Campbell said to a crowd of hundreds after the two separate votes, which will drastically change the face of the district.

“Most of us knew almost how they were going to vote anyway,” parent James Johnson said. “We just need to continue to support the schools, support our kids and put them first.”

The board voted 6-3 to approve the high school plan closing Jackson Central-Merry High School and relocating Early College High into JCM’s annex building.

“I feel that it is a disservice to this whole community,” resident Shelia Godwin said. “They said they listened to the people, but they did not.”

The board also voted 6-3 to approve the elementary and middle school option, creating four K-8’s while closing Nova, Beech Bluff and Malesus elementary schools as well as West Middle School.

“They just gave Medina and Chester County a great sales pitch to give to any industry that could have come to Jackson and have them move just north or south of the border,” parent Chad Bynum said.

After the vote, parents and students made their opinions known, but board members said they hope they will come around to make this new vision for education a successful one.

“I’d like to see that passion and commitment transfer to the new school that your children will be assigned to,” Campbell said.

The school board members who voted against the high school plan were Joe Mays, Bob Alvey and Janice Hampton. The three who opposed the elementary and middle school proposal were Hampton, Alvey and George Neely.

The plans will take effect in the 2016-17 school year and are estimated to save the district more than $4 million, all of which the board has said they plan to redirect toward classroom programs.

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