Mr. Manuel told the audience that last year, 4,345 Germantown students attended GMSD schools, 550 attended SCS schools, and 3,356 attended private or other schools. Riverdale and Farmington are both over capacity. Dogwood is right at capacity and Houston Middle has an enrollment of 896 students with a capacity for 930. With projected new growth, GMSD is quickly running out of room.
The audience was asked to break out into small group discussions on the strengths of the community. The groups were led by table hosts who were GMSD staff members while school board members and Supt. Manuel walked around listening in on the table conversations. After briefly listing the benefits of living in Germantown, the groups were told to come up with ideas and solutions for capacity issues at GMSD. Some mentioned use of empty retail space or empty land owned by the City. One "out-of-the-box" idea was to use eminent domain to turn private schools into public schools. Then, people were asked to switch tables and the discussion turned towards the eleven considerations posed by GMSD:
2. New Middle School--separate property
3. New Elementary School--separate property
4. New K-8 adjacent to Riverdale
5. Expand existing campuses--FES, DES, RES, HMS
6. Replace portables at Riverdale with Brick & Mortar
7. Move to K-6 model/Expand HMS---No RES build
8. Full Middle School on Riverdale campus
9. New Southside K-8
10. Bus lot
11. District Office/Warehouse
Some explanations and additional information was given. Regarding the proposal for a new Riverdale K-8 school being built, someone had contact GMSD with an offer to sell property in the Riverdale neighborhood where a new Riverdale K-8 school could be constructed. So, this would be the third option for Riverdale. The other two are listed as Numbers 6 and 8. Option 6 would be an expansion to move students out of the portables into brick and mortar buildings. Option 8 would be a larger expansion that would construct a new middle school on Riverdale's current campus.
As for the bus lot, GMSD currently has an agreement to use the bus lot in Collierville but will need to provide a future lot for 30-40 buses in Germantown. Mr. Manuel explained that even though Durham provides the school buses, the contract requires the school system to provide a bus lot. The closer to Germantown, the less fuel usage costs will be.
The district also needs warehouse space to be able to make bulk purchases and keep spare parts in storage. Right now, supplies are delivered directly from vendors to each school. And air conditioner parts, etc. are ordered on an as needed basis. Mr. Manuel also answered a question from the audience about the cost of rent for the district office. The City of Germantown made leasing arrangements for GMSD offices, and the cost is $144,000 annually which is a good price for retail space at its location.
Most everyone agreed that overcrowding and the portables at Riverdale needed to be addressed. However, not everyone agreed on the solution. Some wanted a new school, some wanted a new expansion and some wanted a new middle school on Riverdale's campus. Most everyone also agreed that there was a need for additional space to accommodate projected growth. Some favored building a new elementary school while others said that they did not want a new elementary school in south Germantown. A few questioned if the decision could be put off a few years and allow further negotiations with SCS over GES and GMS.
There were no clear cut solutions and no clear indications as to how GMSD will address these issues.