VOL. 129 | NO. 41 | Friday, February 28, 2014
Goldsworthy: Germantown, Collierville Discuss Schools Contract
By Bill Dries
Germantown Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy says Germantown and Collierville schools leaders are discussing a contract to allow Collierville students to continue attending the Germantown district’s Houston High in the new academic year.
“Germantown Municipal School District is having conversations with Collierville,” Goldsworthy said Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the Memphis Kiwanis Club. “It is helpful for the Germantown Municipal School District to have those students to continue there for the next couple or three years at least simply for there to be a large enough high school to provide a full range of high school programming.”
The six suburban towns and cities, including Germantown and Collierville, are forming their own school systems to open for classes with the 2014-2015 academic year.
The demerger of what is now a consolidated countywide public school system includes some key changes that aren’t what suburban leaders envisioned three years ago when they started down the path to forming their own school systems.
They originally intended to keep in place the student attendance zones in which students in some of the suburban towns and cities attended schools in other cities and towns. They also intended to include children living in unincorporated Shelby County.
But Shelby County Schools officials said the children in unincorporated Shelby County will remain part of its system with the new school year and it is part of a federal court settlement.
Attorneys in the schools reformation case in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee all came to the conclusion that the suburban school systems couldn’t include students outside the town and city boundaries in the core school systems because the parents of those students would not have elected representation on the boards of the suburban school systems.
But all seven of the public school systems in Shelby County will have open enrollment plans of some kind that allow children from outside their borders to attend their schools on a space available basis. And without attendance zones for children in unincorporated Shelby County, including the suburban annexation reserve areas, many if not all of the suburban school systems are expected to have fewer students than originally anticipated.
Collierville is unique, said Collierville Schools superintendent John Aitken in an interview for a story in the Feb. 28-March 6 edition of The Memphis News.
“We’re kind of geographically more so removed from the Shelby County Schools boundaries than are some of the other municipalities,” Aitken said, adding parental anxiety should ease “once we get some answers on the people in the reserve area and the kids who live in Collierville and go to Houston High and Houston Middle – once we can get some finality to that arrangement and give them some answers.”
Goldsworthy indicated Wednesday that specific terms are being discussed.
“We anticipate that the two school boards – Collierville and Germantown – will enter into a contract if Collierville wants to keep their kids there. Right now, they are kind of short of space,” she said. “That might or might not include some kind of compensation. I don’t think anybody looks at this as being long term.”
The Germantown Schools open enrollment policy is expected to be approved by the Germantown Schools board Monday, March 3, according to Goldsworthy. Also on the agenda is an attendance zone plan for the school district.
Meanwhile, Bartlett leaders this week got a revised estimate of the Bartlett Schools student population from their consultants, Southern Education Strategies, that shows approximately 1,400 fewer students than the 2011 estimate of 9,000. The estimated number does not take into account open enrollment.
Lakeland and Arlington Schools leaders have an attendance zone map for Arlington and Donelson Elementary Schools in Arlington on the Arlington Schools website, www.acsk-12.org, with boundaries for the two elementary schools that cross into Lakeland.