The Germantown Building Delimma

Lots and lots of buzz about the county administration recommendation for 3 Germantown Schools. Although I represent the North and Pickler represents the South, this issue is of particular importance to me.

I think that in all things that we have to keep in the forefront of our minds what is in the best interest of children, on both sides. But you cannot disconnect the money (and its lack thereof) to the children.

In the case of Germantown, you have 8 scs schools in its boundaries. If you were just to educate Germantown kids, 8 would be far too many. Too much capacity, overhead, and waste. If you were to educate all of the current children, it is a fairly efficiently run system.

1) The SCS took the position Monday night that legally, it is obligated to educate its own children and the municipalities are legally obligated its children. That is true..

2) The loss of 3000ish Memphis reserve area kids could equate to 24 million loss in BEP/county funding.. That is true

So from an SCS viewpoint and a numbers viewpoint, it made sense to take that position.  However, if you begin to interject quality of education for our Memphis reserve kids, the picture gets very muddy. If the SCS keeps GES, GMS, and GHS and vows to educate all kids, it can safely be assumed that most G-Town students will transfer to the municipal schools. By most accounts, this could create a 30-40% drop in enrollment in GHS and GMS and as much as 60% in GES.

That proposes a very interesting litmus test: Will SCS be able to provide a quality of education at least = to Germantown Municipal Districts..

I think the answer is fairly clear: Probably Not

The funding gap from the loss of so many students will result a 50 million dollar gap. To close the gap, there will be an emphasis on cutting personnel, This could result in the move to the legacy MCS staffing formula which could change the student teacher ratio again and make the classrooms larger. This could lead t o further transfer out of GHS, GMS, to the municipal district. This would lead to underutilized property in these schools and make them less and less efficient. It will ultimately affect the level of school based choice and AP programs.

Germantown has pledged to change the student teacher ratio back to per-merger levels which is considerably better that the old MCS model and to look to augment current academic programs for students.

I think that this begs the question if we are doing what is in the best interest of county students with this position. If G-Town is willing to put that much into these schools that are a majority county kids, and we cannot, we need to cut a deal to let Germantown keep them. And this is how we could get there:

1) Long term lease with the lease length directly tied to how long our children are educated. That can be forever, or whatever, but it needs to defined and locked down to protect the county kids to where they cannot just be let go.

2) The agreement cannot create a need for more county buildings to be built..

3) And you have to put your money where your mouth is on school programming. The educational experience has to remain = to the other schools under your control. You cannot create a caste system in your schools.

I am not opposed to this solution above  in Germantown and Millington.. I cannot say that my peers will agree or if the votes exist to approve such a deal. But looking at it from the quality of education perspective, not doing this causes me some pause.

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3 Responses to The Germantown Building Delimma

  1. I like your solution a whole lot better than the SCS administration’s. The Germantown residents south of Poplar certainly will; If I live across the street from Germantown High School and you tell me that the municipal school that will serve my child is Houston, and oh by the way SCS will administer GHS and all of its non-resident students, I will tell you that dog won’t hunt.

  2. David, were there pre-merger capital improvement plans for SCS to build a new high school in the Collierville/Germantown area? Why the resistance to a solution that includes new county buildings? I would also like to know how the recommended rezoning in the north side of the county will impact the school board’s promise to freeze attendance zones? What about the high school students who relied on that promise that they would graduate from their current high school?

    • The original county CIP had a new high school planned at some point in the future. But given the horrible amount of deferred maintenance from the old MCS schools, I am not sure when that happens. I also believe that the need for new capital will matriculate into the municipal areas as people move into these boundaries. Also, the county commission is not going to approve capital for a new building, period. It was a point of contention during the original negotiations so I believe that is a non-starter at least in the foreseeable future. As far as the attendance boundaries are concerned, that commitment was made based upon the assumption that we would remain one school system. We cannot zone a child to a school that does not belong to us. Finally, my understanding is that SCS will have open enrollment for kids who want to stay in their schools. The only gotcha is will the municipal schools allow them to finish in their schools..

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