Gov. Lee proposes $200 million initiative to relocate schools in flood plains

Three of the schools are located in Shelby County
Published: Feb. 1, 2022 at 5:27 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In his State of the State address Monday night, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced plans to relocate 14 schools currently sitting in flood plains.

That includes three schools in Shelby County with a combined enrollment of 2,000.

The destruction by severe floods in Waverly, Tennessee last year is still etched into Lee’s mind.

“The tragedy, the heartache, the loss was hard to take in,” said Lee.

In his State of the State speech Monday night, the governor recalled touring the inside of an elementary school that had been badly damaged.

“I saw desks and backpacks and books piled up against the door where water rushed out. If the Waverly flood happened on Friday instead of Saturday, we would be mourning the loss of hundreds of Tennessee children,” said Lee.

To prevent future tragedies like that from happening, the governor is proposing spending $200 million to relocate 14 schools he says sit in flood plains.

They include three schools in Shelby County: Lowrance K-8 School and American Way Middle School, which are both part of the Memphis-Shelby County Schools district, and Wooddale Middle School, which is a charter school operated by Green Dot Public School and part of the state’s Achievement School District.

“I am proposing one-time funding to ensure that no student in Tennessee attends a public school located in a flood zone,” Lee said to a round of applause from lawmakers.

Action News 5 reached out to Memphis Shelby County Schools for comment on the governor’s initiative.

The district’s media relations office said, “We are reviewing the details of this initiative and its impact on the identified schools.”

Green Dot Public School gave the following statement on Woodale Middle:

“We learned of this proposal through news media reports and that is where we learned Wooddale Middle School is among eligible schools. As you know, the WMS building itself is owned by MSCS. We have yet to receive any specific details from the state, and look forward to reviewing them when they arrive. At that point, we will be in a position to offer further guidance to our students and families and the community at large.”

Some of the $200 million would come from the federal government.

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