MLK College Prep students to select from 6 options during construction of new school

Starting next school year, MLK College Preparatory High School in Frayser will provide students with the option to choose from six different schools as construction of a new high school begins on the same site, according to Memphis-Shelby County Schools.

After spending 10 years in the Achievement School District, MLK College Prep is returning to MSCS control and will be closing down. The school board rejected its bid to become a charter school within the district.

Set to open in 2027, the new school will replace both MLK College Prep and Trezevant High School. Trezevant, which is part of the district-run iZone turnaround program, is one of the six schools that displaced MLK students can choose to attend next year, as announced during a town hall meeting on Thursday.

The other five school options include Craigmont High, Medical District High, Raleigh-Egypt High, Middle College High, and Manassas High.

Six choices available for MLK College Prep students

Once MLK College Preparatory High School exits the state-run turnaround program, students assigned to the school will have the opportunity to select from these six schools next year:

  • Trezevant High: Part of MSCS’ iZone school turnaround program and closest to MLK College Prep.
  • Craigmont High: Focuses on college preparation and international studies.
  • Medical District High: Concentrates on college preparation and health services and is located at Southwest Tennessee Community College.
  • Raleigh-Egypt High: A comprehensive high school.
  • Middle College High: Emphasizes college preparation and is partnered with Christian Brothers University.
  • Manassas High: A community school within MSCS’ iZone turnaround program.

Transportation to Trezevant High will be provided for MLK College Prep students by default. However, additional transportation will also be offered to the two other schools that attract the highest number of MLK College Prep students.

“While Trezevant is the nearest school to MLK, it may not be the best option for all students,” explained Patrice Thomas, chief of strategic operations and planning adviser for MSCS.

Thomas added, “We want to identify the top two schools that most students are interested in attending, and we will arrange transportation accordingly.”

Two of the six schools, Middle College High and Medical District High, have certain enrollment requirements that may restrict access for some MLK College Prep students.

The district’s communications chief, Cathryn Stout, noted that there is limited flexibility regarding these requirements since these schools are situated on college campuses, and many of the criteria are related to student behavior.

“The aim is to ensure that students utilizing the college campuses and resources exhibit a certain level of behavior,” Stout explained.

Plans for a new high school in Frayser have been in the works for some time, with the district seeking funding to replace Trezevant. The deferred maintenance expenses at Trezevant are among the highest in public schools.

This year, Shelby County Commission granted $9.9 million to MSCS for the construction of this state-of-the-art school, which is estimated to cost approximately $90 million.

According to a schedule submitted by TWF Builders, the project’s contractors, construction is scheduled to begin in April next year and conclude by February 2027.

The reaction to the announcement of the high school choices for the following year was mixed during the town hall meeting on Thursday.

While most parents and attendees welcomed the idea of a new high school, some expressed frustration as they believed the students would remain at MLK College Prep for at least another school year.

Others voiced concerns about their children adapting to a new school environment and the possibility of bullying due to territorial disputes at Trezevant.

“It is frustrating for parents, and I don’t think it’s fair to them that they’ve been given so many different stories,” commented Tasha Williams, showing support for the parent group Memphis Lift.

“We have to adapt to the situation, but parents had become comfortable thinking they had time to plan, only to find out that they didn’t,” Williams added.

Bobby White, CEO of Frayser Community Schools, the charter network that managed MLK College Prep, assured parents that the new high school would provide a fresh start for the community.

“I know this is a challenging situation. I know this is life-changing,” White acknowledged. “But this is a unique opportunity for 38127. The temporary discomfort should not overshadow the excitement for the future.”

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