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Legislation could change control of Germantown Elementary, Middle, High School

Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 10:12 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee State Representative Mark White (R-Memphis) sponsored legislation that would give the City of Germantown control of Germantown Elementary, Germantown Middle and Germantown High.

“I think it’s time we go ahead and settle this,” Rep. White told Action News 5, “We want to make this work mainly for the students. But I think all parties realize that these three schools are part of Germantown. They’re in the city proper of Germantown, and they’re proud of these schools and they want to be able to manage these schools.”

In 2013, Memphis City Schools merged with Shelby County Schools and Germantown’s namesake schools became part of that district. Germantown created its own school system in 2014. In 2017, a $25 million sale of the “3 G’s” from SCS to Germantown panned out.

Some, including Rep. White, said passing a new state law is the only way to get this deal done.

Rep. White says his bill came about after 13 meetings between Memphis-Shelby County Schools, which currently operates the “3 G’s”, and Germantown city leaders failed to produce an agreement.

In his newsletter, Germantown Mayor Mike Palazzolo said: “It has been the desire of Germantown residents to have local control over our schools. The current situation with MSCS operating schools within Germantown’s boundaries does not have long-term sustainability.”

Rep. White’s legislation stipulates county school districts can’t operate within the bounds of municipal school districts. That’s in-line with a 2017 Tennessee Attorney General ruling that said one school district should not operate schools within the boundaries of another school district.

White’s legislation would require that MSCS lease the three schools from the City of Germantown until students currently enrolled finish their tenure at that school.

The bill also includes payment terms for the land on which the schools sit.

Mayor Palazzolo says the city is ultimately looking at building new, state-of-the-art schools on those sites.

Rep. White represents District 83 which covers Memphis and Germantown. He said all parties have told him they are ready for this issue to be resolved.

“Everyone on both sides has encouraged me to keep running this bill, just to push us over the goal line,” said Rep. White, “It’s time that we make this happen.”

Neither MSCS or Germantown Municipal schools responded to Action News 5′s request for comment by deadline.

The bill goes before a House subcommittee on Tuesday, March 15. It goes before a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday. If it passes during this session, it would take effect July 1, 2023.

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