What’s next after controversial Vision 2020 decision?

JACKSON, Tenn. — After the school board’s controversial Vision 2020 vote, we now know five Jackson-Madison County Schools are closing.

“I really hate to see the tradition of a school end,” said George Neely with the school board.

But after months of discussion, the Jackson-Madison County School System has decided the last bells will ring at Jackson-Central Merry High School, West Middle, Nova, Beech Bluff and Malesus Elementary School at the end of this school year.

“What I based my decision on was putting the students first and the students’ education,” Neely said.

Superintendent Verna Ruffin says the school closures do not mean staff will lose jobs, which leads to step two — reassigning staff.

“One of the things that will happen in January is the principal assignments will be made,” Ruffin said.

For some schools, the larger enrollment numbers could mean adding jobs the schools didn’t have before, such as an assistant principal.

Ruffin says all other staff from teachers to nurses and cafeteria workers will be notified of their reassignments between March 1-4.

“The way I understand it is they’ll have first choice of vacant positions,” Neely said.

District officials say closing the schools will save millions of dollars, which leads to the question, what happens to the buildings once school’s no longer in session?

“We did not do this to save money. We did it to repurpose money for the benefit of teaching and learning,” Ruffin said.

Board members say no definite decision has been made. The vacated schools could be sold, re-purposed for other education programs or become a city- or county-wide initiative.

Ruffin said she visited JCM and Nova Elementary Friday to speak with staff.  She said she’ll visit the other three schools that are closing within the next week.

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