School Board Approves Suburban Schools Negotiation Framework

By Bill Dries

Shelby County Schools board members voted Monday, Oct. 28, to authorize superintendent Dorsey Hopson to negotiate 40-year leases on schools within the six suburban towns and cities in Shelby County between Shelby County Schools and the still forming suburban school systems.

The framework for the negotiations approved by the board excludes Lucy Elementary School in Millington and Germantown Elementary, Middle and High Schools in Germantown.

The resolution the school board approved calls for a “negotiated sum” for the school buildings that would “assist in offsetting the health and life insurances costs of currently retired school system employees.” It also provides that the suburban school districts would pay any costs for the maintenance and upkeep of the schools their school systems would get.

The school board vote was 5-1 in favor with school board member David Pickler voting “no” and board member David Reaves abstaining.

Pickler proposed a related resolution later in the meeting to specifically include the possibility of negotiations in Germantown including the three schools Hopson has recommended stay in the Shelby County Schools system.

The board voted down the resolution.

Hopson said several times that the three schools could be discussed in the negotiations but that at least for now he is not changing his recommendation.

Hopson proposed keeping the four schools within Shelby County Schools system because large numbers of students from the Memphis annexation reserve area attend them. He also said the school system has an obligation to plan for students in the unincorporated areas of Shelby County who currently attend schools within the suburban towns and cities but who might get pushed out of the suburban school districts if the number of students who live in those towns and cities grows.

In other action, Hopson announced that he will recommend the school board expand Barret’s Chapel Elementary School from a kindergarten through fifth grade school to grades k-8 next school year.

Parents of students at the elementary school were concerned about the long bus trip for those students to attend middle school at Mt. Pisgah Middle School next school year.

The school board also approved a memorandum of understanding with Christian Brothers University to consult with the school system on the development of a proposed STEAM school at neighboring Fairview Middle School. STEAM is a curriculum that emphasizes science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics.

Over the five years of the agreement, the university will provide consulting engineers and professional development at a cost of up to $25,000 a year.