By Bill Short
The Millington School Board modified its Five-Year Master Plan this week to “move up” the possible construction of a new elementary school to the 2019 fiscal year.
Board members took the action Monday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Vice Chairman C. J. Haley and seconded by Roger Christopher. The motion was passed by six affirmative votes, with Ronnie Mackin absent.
The board approved the Five-Year Plan at an Oct. 17 special called meeting.
One of the school system’s planned future initiatives is a $15 million expenditure for construction of a new elementary or middle school.
But Dr. David Roper, superintendent of Millington Municipal Schools, said during the board’s July 13 work session that the system is hoping to acquire Lucy Elementary School.
He said the Shelby County School System has proposed constructing a new school and closing Lucy Elementary in the 2020 fiscal year. So, if the Millington system acquires that building, its students can occupy it in August 2019.
But if that does not happen, Roper said the local system would “start making plans” to have a new facility constructed in the 2021 fiscal year.
“If we acquire Lucy Elementary, there would surely be some costs involved in getting it just like we want it,” he acknowledged. “But the building would be an excellent addition to our district.”
At its Oct. 2 meeting, the board adopted a resolution to enter into negotiations with the county school board for the possible acquisition.
Roper said on Monday night that, as the school system has “gone through this process,” it has sought to obtain and respond to feedback from a number of different “stakeholders.” So, he thought it would be best to suggest “one more modification” to the Five-Year Plan.
If the system needs to construct a new elementary school, Roper recommended that it be moved up in the Plan to the 2019 fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2018.
He also suggested that next year’s planned resurfacing of school parking lots be postponed until the 2020 fiscal year.
“We believe this will show that we want to move forward expeditiously,” he noted, “whether we acquire a new school or build a new one. But that is going to be taking a top priority for the school district.”
Chairman Cody Childress said that, during the past 30 to 45 days, the board has decided it cannot “sit back and wait for someone else” to make a decision about its future. So, he noted that a Site Committee comprised of seven or eight members will be appointed to “set the parameters” for what the board will be seeking.
Initially, he said, the committee will locate “a perfect spot” for a new elementary school, while remaining mindful of its potential impact on traffic, residential areas, growth of the city and its proposed 20-year Master Plan.
In a related action, the board approved the chairman’s nomination of member Mark Coulter to be its representative on the committee.
Childress said he is “excited” that the board is “moving in this direction.”
“We’re going to be turning some ground,” he noted. “We’re going to be laying some bricks and mortar. And people are going to realize that Millington is going to be on the move.”
Coulter expressed appreciation to the city officials who recently met with the board in an effort to assist it.
Childress concurred, noting that Mayor Terry Jones, City Manager Ed Haley and the aldermen have “really embraced” the board with the “backing” they have given it.
“It’s sometimes kind of tough if you’re treading the water by yourself,” he concluded. “But when you’ve got the whole city treading water, it makes things a lot easier.”
By Bill Short