Community members voice concerns at school board meeting

DOWNTOWN JACKSON, Tenn.– The Jackson-Madison County School Board met with concerned parents, teachers and students on Thursday night.

The turnout for the school board meeting was so large it had to be moved to city hall.

While the March agenda was long, there were two main points that caught the attention of the community.

The first was the vote to reopen the Malesus school.

During the meeting, board member Morris Merriweather made a motion to reopen the Malesus school as a Pre-K program and have Dr. Eric Jones and county commissioners look at the figures at a later point. The motion failed with a vote of 1 in favor and 8 against.

The second major item on the agenda was a vote to pay $30,000 to secure a six-month extension for land on Ashport Road. That land would be used for a K-8 school that will replace Pope Elementary. Several parents and teachers lined up to speak about why it was important to have a new larger school for students in the northwest quadrant.

After hearing from the community, the school board voted to approve the motion with 8 votes in favor and 1 against.

“The vote tonight, I mean we do consider that a victory, but in a way we just wonder if it is just another stalling tactic,” said teacher Ellen Neely.

There was an amendment made to the motion that stated the school board would have 90 days to try to find a better location but would not disclose those findings to the public.

“If people know the school system is the one offering, you kind of see why that is a problem. So it’s not that we are trying to conceal or hide anything, it’s just we don’t want everybody in our business,” said school board superintendent Dr. Eric Jones.

The school board allowed about 30 minutes for public comments. During that time, numerous people voiced their concerns about what they see as a division among school board members and made a call for unity.

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