Memphis-Shelby County Schools monitoring ‘3G’ bill

Published: Mar. 15, 2022 at 10:46 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The “3G’s” bill passed an education subcommittee in Nashville Tuesday night.

The proposed state legislation would force Memphis-Shelby County Schools to give the City of Germantown control of Germantown Elementary, Germantown Middle and Germantown High School.

As the bill moves through the Tennessee legislature, the Memphis-Shelby County School system told Action News 5: “The ownership and operation of the 3G’s is a settled issue. The proposed legislation seeks to resurrect all matters stemming from federal court litigation involving the demerger. Our general counsel is monitoring the proposed legislation and its potential impact on our District and exploring all legal remedies that may be available regarding the issue.”

MSCS said the impact of losing those three schools in Germantown would be devastating.

“It’s about land for them. It’s about kids for us,” Tony Thompson, an attorney representing MSCS interests, told the subcommittee. “The general counsel of the district says, I have his text, we do not support the bill.”

State Representative Mark White crafted the bill after 13 meetings between the two sides failed to reach an agreement.

“We’ve been trying to work this out for a number of years,” he told the panel, “all the City of Germantown is asking is to operate and manage these schools within city limits.”

MSCS told Action News 5 the removal of these schools from MSCS would “cause a major and unprecedented disruption and displacement of students and employees. This would also have a significant financial impact.”

MSCS said more than 3,300 students and hundreds of teachers would be affected if the legislation passes. The district says it would cost $7 million to create more space for displaced students to attend Southwind, Ridgeway and Cordova High Schools. Ultimately, the district said “it would be necessary for MSCS to build a new high school, at a cost of $94 million.”

“I have no authority to settle this,” attorney Thompson told lawmakers, “but if they offered us enough money to build a high school, and the time to build it, I imagine we wouldn’t be here. And so, that’s the bottom line.”

“So far we’ve got all parties happy, up to the point we’ve got to work out a few more details,” Rep. White told the subcommittee, “It’s going to take legislation like this so we can keep everybody at the table.”

Rep. White said the value of the buildings on the Germantown Elementary, Middle and High School campuses is $25 to $30 million, far less than the $94 million MSCS said it needs to build a new high school.

The House Education Subcommittee passed the bill, with Germantown Mayor Mike Palazzolo in attendance. It moves to the full House education committee next week.

Meantime, the Senate is scheduled to take up the companion bill, sponsored by Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown, during its education subcommittee on Wednesday, March 16.

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