Blog questions the need for new schools

Shelby County Schools are building schools they don't need, according to the "Smart City Memphis" blog based out of Memphis. The blog points out despite 10 new county schools over the last 10 years, the enrollment in County Schools hasn't changed.

Rapid Growth in Southeast Shelby County is fueling the need for new schools. The need is so pressing, district officials are pushing to convert a former Schnuck's store into a school.

"Right off of Holmes Road they're building new homes over there and families with children are moving in," said parent Robin McGluen. "So I really truly believe that a school will be good."

But bloggers at Smart City Memphis are blasting the County's Building habits, saying the district's growth is flat.

According to the school district, that is on the surface true. In 1996, Shelby County Schools had 46,500 students, and this year have 46,900 students. Without a change, why a need for new schools?

Board President David Pickler says two reasons: First, a change in state law in 1994 that reduced class size, generally by 5 students per classroom.

"Even if you had the same number of children, then effectively you would need 20% more capacity," Pickler said.

Additionally, there is the issue of annexation. While Shelby County Schools grow at about 1,500 students per year, about 6000 students were taken from the district during the annexations of both Hickory Hill and Cordova.

Pickler says without annexation, "then our school system population would be well in excess of 50,000"

That would translate to about 10% growth over the last 10 years.