Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said it’s been a frustrating week juggling one heating outage after another.
This week's cold snap revealed one of the district's biggest equations – fixing $500 million worth of deferred maintenance projects.
“We certainly do not have enough capitol dollars to address all our needs,” said Hopson.
He said these projects go beyond broken boilers. Hopson said the district has too many old, outdated buildings.
“Because what we're not talking about is in schools where the boilers are on, if the school is raggedy or it’s not appealing, it’s not a good learning environment,” said Hopson.
This school year, SCS was awarded $90 million for capital needs. Most of those funds built two new elementary schools and 38 deferred maintenance projects.
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Last school year, the district spent $72 million in capital funding which covered some HVAC system replacements and classroom additions for several elementary schools.
But Hopson said they still need more.
“But even if you provide $60-70 million in any given year but you have a half a billion dollars in deferred maintenance you can only do the best you can with what you have, and I think our team has done that,” he said.
Hopson said the district is also working from behind, trying to overcome a 10-year gap where they didn't receive any capital funding. He said the only solution is a community one.
“These facilities are smack down in the middle of intercity Memphis, and at the end of the day, these kids are our kids,” he said.
About a third of the Shelby County Commission's budget goes toward education.
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