Germantown city leaders continue their fight for buildings belonging to the Shelby County Schools district.
Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy made Germantown's case Wednesday to SCS Superintendent Dorsey Hopson and members of the school board, hoping to convince them to give control of eight SCS-owned buildings to the new Germantown school district.
Both sides agreed it was a productive meeting, although it was obvious, there are still quite a few things to work out before this issue is resolved, including figuring out what role a newly elected Germantown school board will play in any agreements between the county school district and Germantown.
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MORE: Germantown parents voice concern over SCS retaining schools
Even before a school board is elected for the soon-to-be Germantown School District Mayor Goldsworthy is pushing to make a deal with SCS.
"There's a window of time of which we would like to go ahead and secure understanding about how many schools and what kids we'll educate," she said.
Mayor Goldsworthy presented her municipality's case to Superintendent Hopson and the SCS facilities committee, asking them for a 40-year-lease to continue operating eight SCS-owned buildings and to keep attendance zones the same.
Mayor Goldsworthy said it's important for three reasons: To keep diversity in schools, to maintain stability for teachers and students, and to keep parental involvement.
"Each of those schools have a very clear community that is formed around them," she said. "It's the parents, the faculty and it's what happens at those schools and engages the community."
But SCS board members are concerned what the long term plan is for students who are not technically part of the Germantown community.
"I think what you heard over and over were similar concerns, the reassurance the folks who live in those unincorporated areas will have a school to go to, to call their own for many years to come," said SCS board member Kevin Woods.
"I'm trying to determine now how you have the ability, the authority or the wisdom to promise a lot of the things you promised would take place in attendance zones," added Teresa Jones.
Municipalities, including Germantown, will elect school board members Thursday, which is why SCS board members feel it would be better to make a decision on buildings and school zoning once board members for the municipalities are in place.
"I think once they're on record stating their positions on some key issues, it will help us along the way as well," Woods said.
Germantown Offers Proposal to Shelby County School Board
Posted Date: 11/6/2013
In response to the recent Shelby County Board of Education resolution proposing that the Shelby County Board of Education would negotiate leases for five of the existing eight school buildings located in the City of Germantown, Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy today made a final plea to the Shelby County School Board Facilities Committee to allow Germantown to operate all eight schools within its municipal boundaries and to maintain current attendance zones. "We have stated throughout this process that maintaining current attendance zones provides the most stability for the students and their families," said Mayor Goldsworthy.
The rationale presented by the Mayor included four points:
The existing student enrollment in the eight schools located in the City of Germantown reflects racial and ethnic diversity, which fosters an excellent educational learning environment to prepare students for success in college and careers in a global society. Germantown leaders are on record over the past 18 months regarding their desire to maintain all current student attendance zones through three written communications that have been sent to Shelby County school leaders. Goldsworthy added, "In fact, the current composition of the schools in Germantown are among the most diverse in the state."
The October 28 proposal has the potential to create significant student, teacher and staff mobility at Germantown Elementary, Germantown Middle and Germantown High School. Educational research indicates that student, teacher and staff mobility can produce negative effects on student achievement. "Beyond that, there are real life consequences that will be felt by the students, parents and teachers that will be uprooted from their schools," the Mayor said.
Mayor Goldsworthy then proposed the following options following options for consideration by the Shelby County Board of Education.
First, maintain current student attendance zones and execute 40-year leases to the City of Germantown for all eight existing schools located in Germantown. Goldsworthy restated that this plan is the least disruptive for the children and their families who attend the eight schools located within Germantown. She also added, "Germantown recognizes the concerns of the SCBE as to the duration of Germantown's commitment and/or fiscal ability to educate the children in the current attendance zones." To assuage that concern, Germantown proposed that attendance zones for students currently zoned to schools in Germantown would be frozen for the term of the agreement. In addition, any recommendation for modification of the attendance zones following collaborative review by the SCBE and Germantown School Board would be subject to mutual assent of both parties.
While the Germantown Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) clearly always felt that the Germantown Municipal School district should include eight schools, lacking encouragement from SCSB and believing that six schools will contribute to greater stability than a five-school system, Mayor Goldsworthy also proposed a second option that would allow the City to obtain Germantown Elementary school as part of the municipal district. Under this proposal, Shelby County Board of Education would retain operational control of Germantown Middle School and Germantown High School. Both Germantown Elementary and Germantown Middle could be operated as grades K-8 schools which would provide continuity and feeder school patterns for the community, parents and students. "This is clearly a less than optimal situation; however, students will benefit if we can keep intact a larger portion of the district and reduce the amount of student transfer," said Goldsworthy.
The next step in the process is for administration and attorneys from Shelby County School Board and the City of Germantown to work toward an agreement.
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