Shelby Co. commissioners approve ‘3Gs’ deal, await vote from MSCS and GMSD school boards

Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 10:22 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A key hurdle has been crossed in a county-wide deal for the future of the so-called “3G” schools.

Shelby County commissioners approved the consensus agreement at a special meeting on Wednesday.

In an 8-5 vote, the body behind a majority of the funding for the 3Gs deal approved the $100 million agreement in a nail-biting vote.

The deal between Shelby County Government, Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS), the City of Germantown, and Germantown Municipal Schools (GMSD) is now closer than ever to being official.

Final votes from the MSCS and GMSD school boards are expected on Thursday.

For MSCS Interim Superintendent Toni Williams, the vote is a win for students, families and teachers.

“They said they wanted to stay together,” said Interim Superintendent Toni Williams. “They wanted to have a transition period where they transition to a new school together, and today was momentous.”

Commissioners Amber Mills, Dr. Edmund Ford Jr., Erika Sugarmon, Britney Thornton and Mick Wright voted against the agreement, mentioning concerns about no official funding source, the possibility of raising county taxes, and more.

“I’m just having a hard time because this is a huge number and I feel like I don’t have assurance on where this is coming from,” said Wright.

An amended version of the deal requires MSCS to pay for construction to build a new high school in Cordova, replacing Germantown High School, then bill the county on money spent.

The county’s portion of the agreement locks the county in at $77.5 million to be paid over two fiscal years.

Germantown will repay the county $5 million over the next six years for the middle and elementary schools.

However, there’s no official word on where $77.5 million of the county funds will come from.

Speakers and some commissioners were frustrated about being put in the position by a new state law requiring the transfer of the name-sake Germantown schools.

“We were pushed into a corner and given all this information at the last minute and we were charged with action,” said Commissioner Henri Brooks.

The law goes into effect on Jan. 1.

In the end, the majority believe the vote was the best choice for students.

“I was a ‘Yes’ today, and I’ve always maintained at the top of this conversation that this is what’s best for kids,” said Commissioner Miska Clay Bibbs. “When you’re talking about displacing 1,800 students, you can’t help but to think about the reality of how that shifts their everyday living, how it shifts their families.”

The amended deal also asks the school district for an oversight plan for the construction of the new high school.

There is no word where exactly it’ll go just yet.

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