Capital Spending: Where would the $100 million go and why?

In his May 1 State of Metro Address, Mayor Karl Dean announced his proposal to fund $100 million in capital needs for Metro Schools. That would go a long, long way toward helping a number of our schools and communities with needs identified in our Capital Master Plan for 2012-13.

If the Metro Council approves the proposed budget, major projects expected to be funded include:

  • $20 million in renovations at aging Stratford High School
  • A new gym for Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High
  • Purchasing land for new elementary and middle schools in southeast Davidson County
  • Purchasing land adjacent to Julia Green Elementary
  • Renovations and/or expansions at
    • Rose Park Middle
    • Joelton Middle
    • Antioch Middle
    • Oliver Middle
    • AZ Kelley Elementary
    • John Early Middle
    • Norman Binkley

Those are all schools and areas that need attention, but as some of our families have pointed out, they’re not the only ones.

SEE photos of five schools that need capital improvements.

Here in Nashville, the average age of our public school buildings is 42 years old. Sometimes a school is aged and needs renovation. Sometimes it needs to be expanded. And sometimes it’s just not built to support the level of technology or specific programs we need.

Our total capital funding needs for 2012-13 as listed in the Six-year Capital Master Plan come to $185 million. We didn’t expect to get the full amount and we won’t. So how do we decide which projects will be funded?

Short answer: they’re prioritized.

Long answer: All buildings are assessed in a process done by a company outside of MNPS using a software tool that objectively looks at more than 30 components of each building and assigns it a score. District officials then put together a plan based on the needs of existing schools and projected needs for new schools.

The whole idea is to take any one person or group’s point of view out of this decision-making process. It’s done objectively and independently.

And keep in mind capital needs doesn’t just mean buildings. It also means any equipment expected to last for ten years or more, like school buses and technology, and access improvements for people with disabilities.

It’s been two years since Metro Schools received any capital funding and $100 million will go a long way toward improving the district’s infrastructure and our schools. There will always be more to be done – after all, nothing ever stops aging – but we’d be thrilled to receive such an investment.

Read more about the 2012-13 budget proposal & how you can support it.

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