Bartlett property tax increase would fund $60M high school renovation

media, news

Memphis Business Journal (June 13, 2017)
Michelle Corbet

 

Tonight, the City of Bartlett Mayor and Aldermen are expected to approve a property tax increase that will be used in part to fund a renovation and expansion of Bartlett High School.

When the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meet tonight at 7 p.m., they are expected to approve the third and final reading of a 35 cent property tax increase, 14 cents of which will be used to fund a $55 million to $60 million expansion and renovation of Bartlett High School.

The past two readings of the tax increase have passed unanimously and without opposition from the board or public, said Jason A. Sykes, communications, volunteer and community outreach coordinator at Bartlett City Schools.

“[Tuesday] is the third and final reading,” Sykes said. “If that vote passes, it will really officiate the budget and put the process in motion.”

When Bartlett formed its own school district, it conducted a study and realized in the following three to five years, its high school would reach a point of max capacity.

About two years ago, Bartlett City Schools commissioned Fleming Architects to study the condition of the high school buildings to facilitate a conversation about what the district needed to do long-term to address aging facilities and growing enrollment.

After numerous surveys, Fleming came back with several options, with price tags ranging from $55 million to more than $110 million.

While Germantown and Collierville have opted for new construction, Bartlett took a more financially conservative approach and decided to enhance its existing facility.

“$120 million is quite a substantial price tag and project,” Sykes said. “We feel good about the renovations and new landscape, and really feel like this is the best option for Bartlett.”

The school district ruled out building a new high school, which would consolidate grades 9-12. Currently, Bartlett’s freshman attend a separate campus, called Bartlett Ninth Grade Academy, in the former Shadowlawn Middle School.

“We would need 80 to 100 acres for a campus that size, and that’s just not in the inventory of this city,” Sykes said.