Parents Meet With MNPS About Overcrowding
by Aundrea Cline-Thomas
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A proposal to eliminate 7th and 8th grades from Martin Luther King Magnet School (MLK) has parents mobilizing in opposition.
Monday, Metro leaders formally introduced the proposal to parents who had their own set of ideas.
"The overcrowding is a reality that's coming and it's going to have to be addressed," parent Cindy Walker said.
She's one of the parents organizing the effort to present different options to the school board.
"We had a lot of different ideas. Taking another high school that might get closed. Letting us move there," Walker said about the options parents considered presenting to district leaders, "to raising the academic standards."
Currently, students have to be proficient in different subject areas. But parents want to propose having to be at least advanced in one category to lessen the amount of students who qualify.
Under the district's plan, students would remain at MLK's feeder school Head Middle for the 7th and 8th grades. It would delay guaranteed acceptance to MLK for two years if they meet the academic requirements.
"I'm good with her staying and letting Head prepare her for MLK," parent Nehemiah Johnson said. "That's fine with me."
Johnson said it would be beneficial for his daughter to remain at Head to develop socially before being exposed to older students.
However, other parents raise concerns that Head is a thematic magnet school focusing on math and science. It's not an academic magnet like MLK and there's increasing concerns that students won't be as prepared for high school.
"Why can we not have another academic magnet school," parent Kesha Kizer said. Her son is currently an 8th grader at MLK after coming from Head. "Obviously there's a need because you have children every year who are fighting to get in."
Last year, Metro Schools admitted only had space for eight students from the county, while more than 500 remained on the waiting list. The rest of the seats came from students at Head and Rose Park middle schools. The district's plan would make MLK more accessible to students from across the county who meet the academic requirements.
Still parents continue to mobilize in hopes of finding another option.
"Mainly we're trying to get the parents to write, to speak up and we have a petition that we're working on today.
Another meeting has been scheduled for Thursday at 5:30pm at MLK.