By Bill Short
Position 4 School Board member Cody Childress is unopposed for a third term in the Nov. 6 Millington city elections.
A native of Memphis, he is a 1974 graduate of Frayser High School. He is a former resident of the Raleigh area in north Memphis and has lived in the Lucy area since 1985.
In 2012, Childress retired from the Memphis Fire Department after more than 28 years. From 1987 until last May, he was the owner of Splash Plumbing in Millington.
He is currently employed as a plumbing inspector for the Shelby County Construction Code Enforcement Office.
Childress is a past president of the Memphis Area Plumbing Association, a current board member of the William R. Moore Plumbing School in Memphis and a member of the First Baptist Church in Millington.
He and his wife Mary have two sons and five grandchildren.
Regarding additional policies the school board might adopt, he said most of them are proposed by the Tennessee School Boards Association. And the board can choose to adopt, tweak or reject a policy.
“At this time, I am not aware of any new policies on the horizon,” he noted, “although security is always at the forefront.”
Asked to list three significant issues in this election, Childress cited:
(1) the board’s “mission” to assist the new superintendent;
(2) completion of the Performing Arts Center on time and within budget; and
(3) a decision regarding the E. A. Harrold Elementary School site.
He acknowledged that James “Bo” Griffin’s management style is “quite different” from the previous superintendent. But because the school board has a regular meeting and a work session each month, he said that allows its members and Griffin to “get acquainted with each other.”
Childress noted that Chief Financial Officer Bruce Rasmussen keeps the board informed about the school system’s “multiple budgets.” He said building projects “have a way of costing more money” than was originally allocated for them.
“Holding the contractor to his deadline is a goal we all strive for,” he said. “There will always be some unforeseeable surprises.”
Childress recalled that, while he was the board’s chairman in 2017, he appointed a committee to examine potential locations for a new elementary school. Although the committee worked for several months, he said it has not yet proposed a “definitive” location.
“This is becoming a critical area that we have discussed extensively,” he noted. “A definite decision will have to be made this school year.”
He cited the need for rooftops with new families and growth as the biggest concern facing the municipal school system at this time.
“Millington has fallen behind other communities in providing quality homes and neighborhoods,” he said. “Our numbers will never grow if we do not plant this seed right now.”
Childress said E. A. Harrold Elementary should be the school system’s next priority in implementing its Five-Year Capital Improvements Plan.
But he also noted that both the middle school and the Career Technical Education building at the high school need to be upgraded.
He called the middle school a possible “pivot point” for the system. If a new elementary school cannot be constructed, he said the middle school building might have to be used, while moving some of its students to “unoccupied areas” at the high school.
“This is thinking outside of the box,” he acknowledged. “But we can’t keep blaming Shelby County Schools for the buildings it left us. It is up to us to make this dream a reality.”