The City Administration gives two reasons for cutting the funding for the expansion of Houston Middle School, and postponing it for one year 1. The pandemic has led to uncertainty over City revenues, and 2. Now is not a good time for the City to issue bonds in the capital markets.
The 2021 budget proposal, which includes capital improvements projects (CIP) for the next five years, will have its third reading at the next BMA meeting. The plan includes 2.5 million dollars in the 2022 budget for Houston Middle School expansion, which is just 50% of the original commitment.
Another item in the City's CIP for 2022 is 5.5 million dollars for the purchase and development of land for tournament long fields south of Winchester off Forest Hill. That project, when completed, would add about $300,000 to the City's operating expenses.
While Alderman Rocky Janda regularly states that GMSD has plenty of reserves to to build the addition, GMSD representatives dispute that, because those reserves are committed to specific projects. As an example, a large amount of reserves are needed because state money is not available for the district for several months after school begins, and it is needed to pay bills from September through the end of the year.
Another hit in the GMSD budget this year is the $355,000 annual payment to Shelby County Schools. Previously, the City has covered this expense, but the City left this payment out of its budget this year, stating GMSD must cover this commitment for the remaining six years.
You may read additional details in this Daily Memphian article:
In this excerpt, Alderman Sanders asks the GMSD representatives if there will be a school expansion at all if the City fails to contribute the full $5.0 million dollars promised. The answer is a resounding "no". Later, Patrick Lawton states that the funding could always be revisited in next year's budget if financial conditions warrant.