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City uses ‘dual-track’ method to accommodate growing school system

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By Mayor Mike Palazzolo

We are currently in the midst of a series of decisions about significant investments in Germantown’s Municipal School District.
Likewise, our neighbors in Bartlett, Collierville and Lakeland are either planning for new schools or have facilities under construction.

I hope you are as proud as I am of our state-of-the-art middle school addition at Riverdale. The Riverdale expansion, I might add, was the first new construction project for any of the new municipal school districts in Shelby County.

The project is currently on schedule and on budget with opening set for August. I would like to continue to recognize the true partnership between the City of Germantown and our friends at the Germantown Municipal School District. Our community has truly benefited from the working relationship between our Aldermen and School Board Members.

We learned well from the Riverdale expansion that clearly identifying the roles and responsibilities of each governmental body in terms of legal authority, funding, design oversight and construction management makes for a successful partnership. With the Riverdale construction project almost under our belt, we feel very competent and comfortable with this collaborative process.

I want to bring you up to speed on our dual-track effort to handle the growth GMSD is experiencing. You may be aware the Germantown Board of Education recently adopted a resolution creating a negotiating team consisting of the School Board Chair, School Superintendent, City Mayor and City Administrator.

This team will bring a well-crafted purchase offer for Germantown Elementary School and Germantown Middle School to the leadership of Shelby County Schools during the first week of May.

We have worked with SCS leadership over the last 18 months through numerous meetings, conversations and correspondence to keep the lines of communication open and current. Every point of contact has been positive regarding purchasing GES and GMS. However, the consistent message we hear from SCS is that selling the schools would require SCS to build schools to replace GES and GMS.

We are still working to determine an appropriate purchase offer amount. The City and GMSD have determined a new elementary school, including land, construction and furnishings, will cost an estimated $27 million.

It is useful to have this amount identified as we research deferred maintenance costs associated with GES and GMS. There are still many factors and variables to evaluate in making a firm and final offer for these two legacy schools.

I am grateful for the thoughtful consideration provided by our Aldermen and Board of Education members who have allowed us to work this dual-track that enables us to keep all options open until we can determine what is best for our students.

I will continue to keep you updated on progress as we move forward with our collective investment in public education.

Do not hesitate to contact me at Mayor@Germantown-TN.gov to ask questions or provide input.