In recent months, two charter school boards have voted to pull out of the Achievement School District due to under-enrollment. KIPP is the latest to do so, voting 6-1 in late December to exit Memphis University Middle School in June. They cite the school's remote location in southwest Memphis as the primary impediment to increasing their enrollment numbers.
Gestalt Community Schools is the other ASD operator to vote to pull out of its schools. Located in North Memphis, enrollment challenges have plagued the schools for years, even before the charter operators took it over. It looks like someone will take over Humes Preparatory Academy -- a middle school -- but as of now, Klondike Elementary appears to be headed for closure with no one showing any interest in taking the reins. It will be the first in the Achievement School District to close.
KIPP's footprint in Memphis will remain large.
The national network has had a presence in Memphis since 2008 and will continue to operate its seven other schools in the city: three under the state’s Achievement School District and four others under Shelby County Schools. -Chalkbeat TN, 12/20/16
There is no question that the low enrollment numbers have created a situation that is not financially sustainable for the both KIPP and Gestalt. It's also clear that the ASD's design, with zoning restrictions that limit the size of the schools' catchment area, presents a serious challenge for charter operators who are used to enrolling students from all different neighborhoods.
Parents of children who attend KIPP's Memphis University Middle School can keep them in the KIPP network but the distance will be significantly greater. While KIPP promises to provide transportation, families will again be faced with the difficult and important decision of where to send their children to school.