Jackson Public Schools Board Makes Decision to Shut Down 13 School Buildings

The Jackson Public School District board has approved a plan to close 13 school buildings, with one board member dissenting.

In October, the JPS district leadership unveiled a plan to shutter 16 school buildings due to declining enrollment. Over the course of the 2015-16 and 2023-24 school years, the district has seen a decrease of approximately 9,500 students, which is about one-third of its population. The district has also previously consolidated schools.

Earlier this month, district leadership presented an amended proposal, removing three elementary schools from the list based on feedback received during community meetings.

The following schools are part of the updated consolidation plan:

  • Dawson Elementary School
  • G. N. Smith Elementary School
  • Lake Elementary School
  • Lester Elementary School
  • Marshall Elementary School
  • Obama IB Elementary (scheduled for 2025)
  • Raines Elementary School
  • Shirley Elementary School
  • Sykes Elementary School
  • Wells APAC Elementary (scheduled for 2025)
  • Chastain Middle School
  • Whitten Middle School
  • Wingfield High School

During Tuesday’s meeting, various individuals expressed both support and opposition to the proposed closures, including community activists, current teachers, and state legislators.

Representative Chris Bell, D-Jackson, voiced support for the consolidation plan, stating that he did not want the district to face the possibility of state takeover due to financial issues.

“JPS has overcome significant challenges,” Bell said. “Under the leadership of Dr. Greene, we have reached a point where individuals have largely abandoned efforts to take over JPS.”

Superintendent Errick Greene emphasized the importance of making a decision without delay or hesitation during his address before the vote, highlighting the potential grave consequences if action is not taken.

“If we fail to take immediate and decisive action…we could find ourselves in a situation where our system becomes unsustainable because we did not take the necessary steps to stop the bleeding,” Greene stated.

Nearly all board members acknowledged the need to reduce costs for the district, although some expressed concerns about the communication surrounding the plan.

“It’s common knowledge that we have an excess of buildings and real estate, and we lack the funds to maintain them,” remarked Cynthia Thompson, JPS board member for Ward 6. “The dissatisfaction with the plan and its presentation stems not just from me or the community, but from how it was conveyed.”

Thompson proposed the removal of Wingfield High School from the list, but the motion failed with a 3-3 vote. She was the lone board member who did not vote in favor of the consolidation plan.

“The challenges we face in Jackson are a result of the state of Mississippi’s government,” stated Frank Figgers, board member for Ward 3. “Our communities need to know where to direct their frustrations and place the blame for our current situation.”