Parents Seeking New Solutions To Address MLK Overcrowding - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Parents Seeking New Solutions To Address MLK Overcrowding

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by Aundrea Cline-Thomas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Parents at Martin Luther King Magnet School have voiced concerns about a proposed solution to combat the school's overcrowding issue.

MLK Magnet School has considered cutting the 7th and 8th grades from the school in an effort to reduce the number of students.

MLK Magnet has routinely made the list of one of the best in the country. The school even welcomed First Lady Michelle Obama as its graduation speaker back in May.

"The kids are in tune as to what their goal is," parent Ronnell Griffin said.

Griffin's son has been attending MLK but she knows all too well how difficult it is to get in.

"MLK does not have a sibling preference and due to that she had to go into the lottery system," Griffin said about her daughter. "She qualified for the lottery but was wait listed every time."

Her daughter was one of 550 qualified students from the county who applied to attend MLK last year. Only eight were admitted into the school.

"She got as high as eight and didn't move," Griffin said about the waiting list.

Those seats were being filled from two feeder schools, including Head Middle where students who meet the academic requirements were guaranteed entrance in the 7th grade.

"We project MLK to be over capacity by 50 students next year if something isn't changed," explained Chris Weber, Director of Student Assignment Services at Metro Nashville Public Schools.

The overcrowding would more than double in subsequent years. That's why Metro Nashville Public Schools wanted to phase out 7th and 8th grades and make MLK only a high school by the 2015-2016 school year.

"My knees buckled and I thought I was going to be sick to my stomach," parent Cindy Walker said about getting the news.

Parents like Walker entered the lottery for Head Middle specifically for the MLK 7th grade guarantee.

"Now then with this proposal, he'll be at Head for an extra two years," Walker said about her son. "I don't think he would be as prepared for high school if he took 7th and 8th grade here."

The proposal would open up more seats for qualified students across the county who don't attend the feeder schools and currently don't have a shot of getting in.

"We want to keep our promises to families that are in these pathways," Weber said. "At the same time we have to balance the capacity constraints at MLK."

Families said the promise has been broken.

"From the perspective of a parent of an MLK student I think the grades should remain," Griffin said. "It's only beneficial to those lower grades."

Parents were expected to gather Friday in MLK's auditorium to brainstorm new options for the district to consider.

The school board was expected to vote on October 8.


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