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County commission committee approves $1.8M school facilities study

The Shelby County Commission’s public works committee voted Wednesday to spend $1.8 million on a facilities study to help them better determine where they should prioritize capital improvement spending, according to the Commercial Appeal. The request was passed 4-2.

The entire commission will vote whether to approve the study Monday.

Shelby County Schools has gone three years without any capital investments, according to Superintendent Dorsey Hopson II.

One school, Westhaven Elementary, was in need of so much repair, it was deemed unsafe by Hopson last spring and closed despite community protests.

Wednesday’s request was made by Shelby County Schools administrators and included facilities in the municipal districts that split off this summer, according to The Commercial Appeal.

During its budget hearings last month, commissioners debated whether they should pay for municipal districts’ facility upgrades.

Feasibility reports for the municipal school systems did not include capital funding needs in the municipal districts, though they did lay out capital improvement needs at schools in the new districts.

They ultimately decided to approve the $47.4 million request for funds for capital improvement funds and tacked on an additional $4.8 million to fund capital improvement projects in the six new municipal school districts.

In other news, the commission’s education committee sent an ordinance that will raise the salaries of board members from $15,000 from the current $4,200.

School board members in Nashville make $14,000 per year. According to a 2010 National School Board Association survey, almost half of the board members surveyed in districts with more than 15,000 students don’t make any money for serving on the board. But, for those that do get paid, only 9 percent make less than $5,000 a year.