Four Jackson elementary schools have been identified as potential targets for consolidation, but district administrators are emphasizing no official recommendations or decisions have been made.

After the district conducted a study of schools with about 200 students or less that need costly infrastructure repairs, Brown Elementary, French Elementary, George Elementary and Woodville Heights Elementary were identified as schools to consider for consolidation. The consideration is because of an increase in the cost of maintaining school buildings, decline in student enrollment and a decrease in state funding, district officials said.

Woodville Heights was targeted not because of small enrollment but because of almost $4 million in needed repairs, Interim Superintendent Freddrick Murray said.

“Please know there is no recommendation at this point (for any schools to close),” Murray said Tuesday when making a presentation to the Board of Trustees. “What we’re doing is providing information to the board as it relates to a study we have conducted.”

The Mississippi Department of Education found the district in violation of state accreditation standards dealing with safe facilities and licensed staff. Murray said the district is considering school consolidation as a way to help address those issues.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba recently suggested closing down some elementary schools may be a tough decision the district has to make.

He compared the district to DeSoto County School District, which has about 6,500 more students than Jackson but only about two-thirds as many schools.

“We’ve consulted all the king’s horsemen and all the king’s men, and it appears that it’s consistent that we’re going to have to close some schools, because our school system, our footprint as JPS grew at a time when the population was larger,” Lumumba said. “And so now it’s becoming difficult with our funding in order to accommodate all of those facilities, all of those schools, based on where our current resources and funding is.”

School breakdown:

Brown Elementary: 193 students, 13 teachers, 23 support staff, projected cost for building repairs is more than $4 million.
French Elementary: 200 students, 16 teachers, 21 support staff, projected cost for repairs is $2.7 million.
George Elementary: 129 students, 11 teachers, 17 support staff, projected cost for repairs is $3 million
*Woodville Heights Elementary: Projected cost for repairs almost $4 million.

*The district did not provide enrollment and staff information for Woodville Heights Elementary.

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Kate Royals is a Jackson native and returned to Mississippi Today as the lead education reporter after serving in the same capacity from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, she was a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger covering education and state government. She won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s campaign finance laws and prison system. She was a news producer at MassLive in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications with a master’s degree in communications.