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Student at Frayser Achievement Academy.

A student walks through the hall of Frayser Achievement Elementary School, a state-run school.

Kyle Kurlick

Tennessee seeks to combine two state-run elementary schools in Memphis

Tennessee’s school turnaround district wants to combine two of its Memphis elementary schools and return the remaining building to Shelby County Schools.

In a Feb. 23 letter to Superintendent Dorsey Hopson, the State Department of Education proposed consolidating Corning Achievement Elementary and Frayser Achievement Elementary in the Frayser building, effectively closing Corning. Both schools are directly operated by the state’s Achievement School District.

The letter cites the condition of Corning Achievement’s building, which “is in dire need of capital repairs that are affecting the health, safety, and welfare of students.” It also says enrollment has “severely declined” at the school and that the trend is expected to continue next school year.

Written by deputy general counsel Lee N. Danley, the letter asks the district to approve the consolidation and closure, but also made clear that the ASD would move forward without approval by co-locating the schools at Frayser and running them separately.

Hopson told the school board about the state’s request Tuesday night, and did not have a recommendation other than ultimately to demolish the Corning building, located less than two miles from Frayser Achievement.

Bobby White, the ASD’s chief of external affairs, emphasized later that conversations between the state and Shelby County Schools were “very preliminary.”

This school year, the Frayser building already has been home to two separate ASD schools. Georgian Hills Achievement Elementary School has shared the building with Frayser Elementary students while its roof was repaired.

The plan is for students at Georgian Hills to move back to its original building this summer. Then, in time for the start of the new school year, Corning staff and students would prepare to move in.

You can read the letter in full below: