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Our Commitment to Education

Post Date:08/10/2018
In case you haven’t noticed the return of school buses to your morning commute or the looks of relief on the faces of harried parents, it’s back to school week in Germantown. At City Hall we are thrilled with the success that Germantown Municipal School District (GMSD) has achieved in just four short years. Notable accomplishments include:
• GMSD was named a District of Distinction in 2017 for work on Exceptional Student Education Transitional Experience
• Houston Middle School counselors were recognized with the RAMP recognition from ASCA this year (the only middle school in Tennessee to meet qualifications for the counseling program award)
• Highest District ACT average in the state for the third consecutive year
• Memphis Business Journal recognized Houston High as both the Most Challenging High School and the #1 Best Public High School
• Each year, Houston High sets new records for students in the HHS 30+ ACT club

At City Hall we recognize that a successful school district benefits the entire community. And while the positive real estate trends can’t entirely be attributed to GMSD, we’ve all seen how quickly sold signs replace for sale signs in Germantown. Since 2013, the average number of days on the market for Germantown homes has decreased from 113 to just 40, that’s a 65% reduction.

In terms of support we’re putting our money where our mouth is to help ensure that Germantown Municipal Schools continue to perform at the highest level and contribute to the high level of quality of life in Germantown. In fiscal year 2019, the City’s general fund budget allocates $6.9 million to directly support GMSD. This includes $2.5 million in maintenance of effort funding required by the state plus an additional $4.4 million to cover costs related to student safety and continuing the improvement of our school facilities. More specifically:
• $1 million for replacement of the failing boiler system at Riverdale School with an additional $1.5 million included in the fiscal year 2020 budget to complete the work
• $1.36 million in debt service payments for the new elementary school currently under construction
• $560,000 for school resource officers and crossing guards at each school
• $500,000 for safety and security improvements at each school
• $440,000 in debt service payments for the Riverdale addition
• $355,000 court-mandated annual payment to Shelby County Schools
• $200,000 each year for the next five years to help fund Houston Arts and Athletics Foundation field house construction and auditorium renovation projects at Houston High School

Of the $6.3 million budgeted for the Forest Hill-Irene Road reconstruction project, $636,000 has been allocated for road improvements fronting the new elementary school site. Additionally, the primary users of Farmington Park and its playground, Farmington Elementary, will benefit from $403,000 in upgrades this fiscal year. This brings the total City investment in FY19 to $7.9 million.

While GMSD is unsure of the timing, the City is also preparing to fund a $5 million expansion at Houston Middle School as soon as fiscal year 2020. The absolute need will be determined once GMSD has carefully reviewed growth projections, the results of revising the school transfer policy and the effects of zoning changes planned for the 2019-2020 school year.

Since fiscal year 2013, Germantown city government has generously supported GMSD with investments totaling well over $49 million (excluding interest on debt), exceeding our state-mandated contribution by more than $40 million. And we’re working together with the district to ensure district success while taking our responsibility to taxpayers very seriously.

Since the district was established four years ago, the inherited $26 million in deferred facility maintenance at our five schools has been more than cut in half. Working together, City and GMSD staff members have created a financial plan and are working that plan to fully address the remaining deferred maintenance projects identified by GMSD's Facilities Committee by fiscal year 2023. We consider this a significant accomplishment and one that will improve the daily school experience of all GMSD students.

In addition to the dollars we allocated for GMSD, City staff is also rolling up their sleeves to work collaboratively with district staff to provide programs and services for students and teachers. These include:
• SAFETY AND SECURITY TRAINING. Germantown Police Department provides active shooter training for teachers, administrators and staff at all GMSD schools.
• LAWN MAINTENANCE. Public works provides mowing services at both Dogwood and Riverdale schools.
• GRANT ASSISTANCE. Our City grant writer collaborates with GMSD on grant applications and has been successful in securing over $323,000 in TDOT Safe Routes to School grants to improve sidewalks, signage and pedestrian crossings near Riverdale School.
• QUALITY CARE OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL HOURS. Parks and Recreation staff provide before and after care and enrichment programs at the three GMSD elementary schools, serving over 600 students annually. In each of the locations, REACH has received a 3-Star rating through DHS Child Care Services.
• ASSISTANCE WITH FINANCING. Because school districts do not have taxing authority and thus no borrowing power in the state of Tennessee, City Finance and Procurement departments leverage the City’s financial strength by assisting with interfund loans to finance technology leases and capital outlay notes to help fund GMSD funded capital projects including construction of the new administration building currently underway.

We’re proud of the relationship we have developed with GMSD administration and the Germantown Board of Education. We promise to continue to collaborate with GMSD to provide our residents with the best in public education. And as always, I sincerely welcome your questions and comments. I can be reached at Mayor@Germantown-TN.gov or by calling 757-7201. In the meantime, be mindful of students walking and biking to school and take the reduced speed in school zones seriously. We all have a part to play in keeping our students safe.
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