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VOL. 129 | NO. 60 | Thursday, March 27, 2014

School Board Approves $52.6 Million Capital Ask

By Bill Dries

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Shelby County Schools board members have approved 25 sets of attendance zone changes for the first school year of the demerger and sent a $52.6 million capital “ask” for the current fiscal year to the Shelby County Commission for consideration.

The school board made last-minute amendments to each item at its Tuesday, March 25, meeting.

The changes to the capital funding request include $1.1 million for a new roof at Millington Central High School, which becomes part of the Millington Schools system in August as part of the demerger.

HOPSON

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson also added, and the board approved, another $800,000 for reconfigurations of Woodstock Middle as well as Barret’s Chapel and E.E. Jeter elementary schools.

And the list now includes $275,000 to replace the roof at Highland Oaks Middle School.

With some adjustments to other line items, the capital funding request is slightly lower than the $52.6 million Hopson took to the board for discussion a week earlier.

The largest items remain $12 million for the construction of a new Westhaven Elementary School; $16 million to add 20 classrooms each at Berclair, Wells Station, Chimneyrock and Cordova elementary schools; and $9.8 million for a 20-classroom addition and other renovations at Germantown High School.

School board member David Reaves proposed an additional $300,000 for a new roof at Lakeland Elementary School, which will be the only school in the Lakeland Schools system after the August demerger.

“They’ve had a problem with it for a long time,” Reaves said of the existing leaky roof. “It’s a small ask.”

Hopson agreed to include it “in the spirit of doing right by all kids.”

But other board members had a problem with it, questioning whether there are other leaky roofs with a higher priority on the school system’s lengthy list of deferred maintenance.

“The problem is we have 20 million square feet of roof space,” said schools facilities director Brian Shipp. “We have to prioritize.”

Reaves’ amendment was voted down, and the board then approved the list with the other changes.

The school system is seeking the capital funding from the Shelby County Commission now to avoid a requirement that begins with the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

At that time, all county funding must be split among the seven school systems within Shelby County, with the amount based on the average daily attendance of each school system.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell has said the capital funding is there for the schools after being set aside at the rate of roughly $50 million to $55 million per fiscal year for the last three years.

Millington’s high school made it onto the list after County Commissioner Terry Roland said last week that he favored the new Westhaven Elementary School but would also like to see a new roof for the school in Millington on the list.

In the case of the attendance zones, more detail was given about the phased-in conversion of Woodstock Middle School, which will be a sixth- to 10th-grade school in the 2014-2015 academic year, then a ninth- to 12th-grade high school in the 2015-2016 academic year.

Eleventh and 12th graders in the area now attending Millington Central High School would be zoned to attend Bolton High School for the coming year, and transportation would be provided.

The plan the board approved Tuesday would also convert Lucy Elementary School in Millington, which remains part of the Shelby County Schools system in the demerger, to a K-8 school in the 2015-2016 academic year to take the students who would otherwise attend Woodstock Middle School.

Lucy would become the third elementary school in the northern Shelby County area to be converted to K-8 status. The other two are E.E. Jeter and Northaven, which will be converted in August.

Lucy was added to the list, according to school system planner Denise Sharp, because Shelby County Schools is getting indic

ations from parents that many of the current students at Lucy Elementary who live in Millington will stay at Lucy next year.

Meanwhile, Hopson delayed a vote Tuesday on an operating budget proposal until a special school board meeting tentatively scheduled for April 22.

Hopson is considering changes to the $961.3 million general fund operating budget based on comments from citizens at a set of town hall meetings.

Hopson wants to re-examine cuts to foreign-language course offerings as well as continued parent complaints about the school system’s use of three “bell times,” the time at which school starts, in which high school students have the earliest bell time.

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