New plan for an old school could cost you more money

The Memphis school district plans to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to renovate a run-down high school with a dwindling student population. Critics say it makes no sense. There is an alternative, but it'll cost even more money.

Manassas High School is the oldest black high school in Shelby County. Full of history and problems

"It's messed up! Crumbling walls down the building." said Manassas student Perion Strong.

"Oh, it's really bad inside the old school." said student Lashun Howard. "We got mold and everything."

The original $17.7 million dollar plan to renovate Manassas calls for a new addition on the existing school. Monday night the school board heard an enticing alternative. For an extra $400,000.. or $18.1 million... the district can build a new school.

Manassas supporters are thrilled. "It is time for current and future students to make their own memories in a brand new, state-of-the-art facility." said Manassas graduate Nadie Kinnard.

"We the alumni, is here, pleading for a new school." said graduate Clyde Lewis.

Critics say it's ridiculous to spend nearly $20 million dollars on a school that serves a shrinking population of 355 students. But if a new school goes up Manassas kids aren't the only ones who'd benefit."

Nearly 500 students, who are currently bused to Kingsbury High, would return home to the new Manassas, easing overcrowding at Kingsbury. And at Manassas, students would enjoy better facilities and programs.

"What we want to do," said Memphis City Schools Superintendent Dr. Carol Johnson. "Is keep the tradition and the interest in that community in ours schools healthy, alive and well."

City councilman Tom Marshall, an architect assisting the district, backs the new plan. So does the board's capital improvements committee. The plan must pass a vote of the full school board before becoming a done deal.