(WREG-TV) At a Shelby County Schools board meeting Tuesday night, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson recommended that the board accept three suburban schools settlements.
The board then unanimously approved Millington, Collierville and Bartlett’s agreements, as well as the transfer of deeds for the school buildings within each town.
The Millington deal includes buildings within city limits and the city reserve.
All suburbs except Germantown have now settled with SCS.
Chairman Billy Orgel said talks with Germantown over school buildings continue, and he hopes to wrap up those talks in the coming weeks. He added that it’s not progressing as quickly as he would like.
Orgel also said that he wants money brought in from the suburbs to go into a trust, not the general fund.
As Shelby County’s school board moves past legal issues with the suburbs, it’s focusing on what some would call a crisis in its schools.
Only three out of ten third graders in Memphis can read.
If that’s not scary enough, board members say most prisons plan their population sizes based on third-grade literacy statistics.
For those reasons, the SCS board says now is the time to cough up the cash and get children and parents reading.
TCAP reading scores in Shelby County show 60 percent of the third-graders in the county read at a basic or below basic level.
At one inner city school, only two percent can read.
Board member Teresa Jones isn’t OK with that.
“There’s data to show their likelihood of success in life is very poor,” said Jones.
As the board starts to work on a budget, they are putting together a program to improve literacy rates.
That program includes reading courses for teachers, literacy coaching for students, and working with parents to start reading clubs in their neighborhoods.
“We came together and said what is going to be our big goal for the county, and we figured let’s get down to the basics and talk about literacy,” said school board member David Reaves.
All this will take money, and Reaves says its time to move funds around to make it happen, because he believes it will actually save money in the long-run as more students graduate.
“I think you look at your budget and your priorities and you reallocate your priorities,” said Reaves.
Board member Shante Avant says the board may push for extra money from the state to pull it off.
“So goes Shelby County, so goes the state. It would behoove the state of Tennessee to support the efforts of the children of Shelby County,” said Avant.
Literacy rates aren’t bad everywhere in Shelby County.
At some schools, 80 percent can read, but literacy rates are much lower in areas with more poverty.
The board is at the beginning stages of going over the information and seeing what programs are successful across the county.
Board members say you can expect to see these changes and new programs in place next school year.
At one point during the meeting, Hopson said cleanliness in schools is tied to student success, so principals should have a problem with how dirty some schools are.
The board also voted 5-2 to approve the renewal of the Teach For America contract.