July 12, 2016

Building New Middle School Set for Start in February 1998

– The Collierville Herald –

The Shelby County school system plans to open bids for construction of another Collierville school by the end of February, said the system superintendent, Dr. James B. Mitchell.

It will be the town’s second middle school, with 50 teaching stations, located on the Schilling tract south of Poplar. The news comes a week after clearance for a railroad crossing into the property at Poplar View. The school also will be served by the extension of Winchester, under construction.

The new middle school will open in 1999, Mitchell said, talking to the Collierville Rotary Club Tuesday at Ridgeway Country Club.

The additional Collierville school is one of eight new ones in the system construction program for 1997-2002, costing about $72 million.

Reducing class sizes, as mandated by the state, also will require construction. Mitchell said the size limits will be 20 students for grades K-3, 25 students for grades 4-6, and 30 students for grades 7-12.

“We will need 150 more teachers and classrooms to meet that requirement,” he said. Meanwhile, the student load for the system is growing by 1,000 to 1,200 students a year.

With 48,000 students in the Shelby school system, it is the state’s largest school district with all schools fully accredited, he said. He noted that the systems for Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville are larger. While many of their schools are accredited, not all are, he said.

The Shelby system was selected as one of the 100 best school districts in the U.S., Mitchell said, and its test scores are above the state and national score levels in every respect. He emphasized that community support boosts quality of schools.

“I can’t think of a community that has a greater understanding of schools’ value than Collierville,” he said.

Shelby schools spend $4,392 per child each year, while the state average is $4,978 and the national average is $6,213, he said.

“We have the lowest per child funding of the 10 largest school districts in Tennessee,” he said. “We’re 90th out of 138 districts in the state.

But he added that the Shelby system ranks first in Tennessee in teacher salaries.

“We’re putting the money in the classrooms,” he said. “We pay teachers more because we want to keep them.”