On Dec. 5, Shelby County Government announced an agreement to invest over $72 million in building a new Cordova-area high school.
The agreement was presented during an executive session with the Shelby County Board of Commissioners on December 5.
The plan is the outcome of a consensus agreement achieved between the Memphis-Shelby County Schools, City of Germantown, and Germantown Municipal School District, for which Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris led mediation efforts over the last few weeks.
The agreement will allow MSCS to build a new $100 million high school and will allow for a multi-year transition for impacted families.
The City of Germantown will transfer $5 million in cash and assist MSCS with efforts to sell one of the buildings, which is estimated to close the funding gap needed to construct a new school. If approved, Shelby County Government will transfer $72.5 million to MSCS for construction. This school will be the district’s first new high school in over a decade.
Additionally, two of Germantown’s “3G” schools, the eponymously-named elementary and middle schools, will become property of the City of Germantown at the conclusion of the agreement term.
All parties came to the agreement on November 29, and await final approvals from each of their legislative bodies. Shelby County’s Board of Commissioners will vote to ratify the agreement on December 14.
The Memphis-Shelby County Schools Board is expected to take similar action during a special-called meeting on December 15. The City of Germantown’s Board of Alderman and Germantown Municipal School Board will vote on the agreement on December 12 and December 15, respectively.
Germantown Mayor Mike Palazzolo: “We’re grateful to our partners at Memphis-Shelby County Schools and Shelby County Government for working with the City of Germantown to find a solution that works for all. For Germantown residents, our ‘3G’ properties are a source of over a century of pride in our community. We’re proud to know that soon enough, these assets will be returned to the City of Germantown as a part of this agreement. Even more so, we’re happy to know that everyone, including MSCS families, wins.”
Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris: “I’m pleased to have leaders of our community come to one table and settle a long-running dispute for the good of students and families across Shelby County. Our collaboration will ensure that we all remain focused on our next generation, avoid a costly legal dispute, and build the first state-of-the-art high school in Memphis-Shelby County Schools in over a decade. With the leadership of Superintendent Williams, we are hopeful that MSCS can break ground on a first-rate learning environment where over 1,800 students in Shelby County can be served. We look forward to briefing the Shelby County Commissioners during today’s executive session.”
Chairman Mickell M. Lowery, Shelby County Board of Commissioners: “I appreciate the urgency shown by all parties involved. Without action before the end of the month, a new Tennessee state law will require MSCS to surrender three schools to Germantown, without a long-term plan for over 1,800 students. I thank Superintendent Williams for her leadership, and Mayor Lee Harris, Mayor Palazzolo, and Germantown Superintendent Manuel for taking appropriate action to move the conversation forward. The County Commission is eager to support our County’s students.”
Interim Superintendent Tutonial ‘Toni’ Williams, Memphis-Shelby County Schools: “With the support of our school board, I have worked diligently since becoming Superintendent to ensure that our 3,400 students and employees would not be displaced if these buildings are transferred to Germantown and no longer operate as schools if obtained by the Germantown Municipal School District. I have listened to Memphis-Shelby County Schools’ parents, staff, and students as they expressed their desire to stay united as a faculty, family, and class body. Thus, I greatly appreciate Shelby County Government’s support that will ensure our students have the facilities and rich programming they deserve.”
Chairwoman Althea Greene, Shelby County Board of Education: “Our concern all along has been to ensure that we have the best possible outcome for students. I am thankful for the support of Mayor Harris, the leadership of Superintendent Williams, and the cooperation of all involved who have made it possible for Memphis-Shelby County Schools to build its first new high school in several years. Our families and students have strongly expressed their desire to stay together, so this funding and multi-year plan mean that all involved have heard the united voices of our staff and students.”
Education Committee Chairwoman Miska Clay Bibbs, Shelby County Board of Commissioners: “As a former member of the Memphis-Shelby County School Board, I know how important it is that we focus on the children when making our decisions. Shelby County is home to this generation’s brightest children. It’s incumbent upon all of us to do what we must to provide the best learning environment possible. Throughout these negotiations, it was clear to me that the impacted children were at the center of all decisions. I’m grateful that through Mayor Lee Harris and his team’s mediation process, the young people at the center of all of this will receive a new $100 million high school to support their education.”