GMSD superintendent discusses ‘3G’ battle after new health clinic opens for district employees

Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2022 at 6:03 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The superintendent of the Germantown Municipal School District (GMSD) is speaking out over the battle over three schools in Germantown after Le Bonheur Methodist Hospital opened a primary health clinic on Monday for district employees and their families.

Employees of Germantown Elementary, Middle and High School, commonly referred to as the “3Gs,” will not enjoy the benefits of the new clinic, as they are currently run by the Memphis-Shelby County School (MSCS) system.

However, there’s a push backed by a new Tennessee state law to turn the schools over to the City of Germantown.

Should those schools move from MSCS into GMSD, that would change.

GMSD Superintendent Jason Manuel spoke on Monday afternoon during the opening of the GMSD Health & Wellness Center, a new primary care clinic on the campus of Germantown Le Bonheur Methodist Hospital.

This clinic will offer accessible and affordable health care to employees and retirees of GMSD along with their family members.

“We have to make sure our employees are healthy, both physically and emotionally, so they can give their best to our children,” Manuel said. “For us, this is a benefit that they don’t have to pay for when they come here. They’re not worried about their insurance carrier. They’re not worrying about them going to a pharmacy to get a prescription. It’s all done here at the clinic. They don’t have to worry about paying a thing, they just make an appointment, get their medicine and leave.”

“We also have a mental health specialist that will be here to take care of any issues people have with stress or anxiety, things that are prevalent in this day and age,” said Gene Cashman, president of Methodist Affiliated Services. “Being able to serve those who serve the community by teaching, helping our community grow and get stronger, is something we really look forward to.”

The 3Gs have been tied up in great debate for more than a year now, with Germantown leaders trying to bring the city’s namesake schools back into the fold.

When Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools consolidated in 2013, the 3Gs were given to SCS, now called MSCS.

The new state law passed during the last legislative session will force MSCS to turn over the schools by making it illegal for a county school system to operate a school inside a municipality without a special agreement.

“That’s something we’re in the negotiations for right now,” Manuel said. “There are several pathways that can happen. Shelby County can sell those buildings to another entity. They could sell to a hospital or to a different organization and we wouldn’t be a party to that.”

Last year, it was rumored Methodist Hospital was interested in the Germantown High property. When asked if that is still the case, Cashman said, “I’ll refer you back to our communications department on that answer.”

MSCS hosted an informational session last month for 3Gs parents who are understandably worried about the future of their children’s education.

MSCS says about 4,000 students will be impacted by any changes to the 3Gs. The superintendent said that giving all children a quality education is priority number one.

“What I hope,” Manuel said, “is that we take care of children. A lot of times when we think about state-level politics or different organizations merging together - or separating from each other - a lot of times there are children that don’t get taken care of. So my goal, and my board’s goal, is to make sure that we’re doing the right thing by families.”

The superintendent said both MSCS and GMSD might get together after the holidays and set up a 10-year or 12-year transition period so that the students’ paths through those 3Gs schools aren’t disrupted.

MSCS hasn’t ruled out further legal action, saying the district will need money to build new schools or transport students should children outside city limits be forced out of the 3Gs.

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