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Mayor addresses plans to accommodate GMSD growth

Mayor Mike Palazzolo

By Mayor Mike Palazzolo
For The Sun Times

I’m sure our entire community is fully aware of the exceptional accomplishments of our Germantown Municipal School District.

The success of our students, parents, grandparents, faculty, staff and district leaders has led to greater enrollment demands on our local schools. So much so, that our three elementary schools are bursting at the seams.

When the district formed three short years ago, we thought local control would bring growth. Now we know this to be true as it has been demonstrated through current enrollment data and future growth trends.

I want to bring you up to speed on the process to accommodate GMSD’s growth at both the City and school district level. We are proud of the much-needed expansion taking shape at Riverdale School which will replace 60,000 square feet of portables with new classrooms for middle school kids.

Now City and GMSD leaders realize we must turn our attention to overcrowding at our other elementary schools.

Over the last 18 months, city and school district leaders have identified a “dual track” plan to address growth. Leaders committed to never relinquishing efforts to acquire our heritage schools of Germantown High, Germantown Middle and Germantown Elementary, while understanding that we needed a backup plan to handle new growth.

This dual track required on-going discussions with leaders from Shelby County Schools (SCS), including a fair offer to purchase GES and GMS. While these discussions with SCS continue and evolve, your leaders fully realize we have to take responsibility for the future of GMSD.

Your GMSD leadership has identified multiple properties for a new elementary school on the east side of our City. Your City and district have a unique partnership, with both entities dependent on the other to carry through the mission of financing and building a new school.

It’s an exciting time in our City with much emotional investment in these discussions and decisions as one would expect when it comes to education and our children’s futures.

Your community is beginning to reach milestones for critically important decisions, including moving beyond the “dual track” strategy to a singular solution.

Over the next two months, our City, school district and residents will have the opportunity to understand our budgets, fiscal policy guidelines, bonding capability, debt capacity, site selection, land acquisition cost, design and construction cost and revenue (tax) projections, coupled with the appropriate public debate and governmental votes.

As we move toward these strategic decisions it is important to continue conversations with SCS on the acquisition of GES and GMS. This week, I met with SCS Board Chairman Chris Caldwell to discuss a fair, firm, enhanced and potentially final offer for both schools.

Your Board of Mayor and Alderman will determine the appropriate contract purchase offer to be delivered to SCS leadership. The City of Germantown and SCS need to work through their respective budget seasons with the intent to deliver a purchase offer the first week in May.

I want to make it crystal clear that our community will continuously work to acquire our heritage schools no matter the outcome of current negotiations.

Obviously there are multiple moving parts in this process.

City and school district leaders are committed to continuing our partnership and pursuit of academic excellence to ensure that Germantown remains a community of choice.

For a better understanding of steps underway to address growth at GMSD, take a look at our working timeline.

As always, please email me at Mayor@ Germantown-tTN.gov or call 757-7252 with questions or recommendations.