For South Cordova families, distress is in the air. The birth of Germantown Municipal School District (GSMD) has much of Shelby County residents in a tailspin, especially those with school-aged children formerly zoned in Germantown. During a time of year when decisions on where children will attend school should be complete, families are left unsettled regarding their children’s academic future.
Part of the need for 2014-15 attendance rezoning within the Shelby County school district (SCS) came when a number of former SCS schools were taken over by the new GMSD. Students originally set to attend those schools are being forced into new locations within the SCS district. Proposals submitted in February by the SCS school board with new attendance zones affect over 7,000 students and families. These proposals can be found on the SCS website.
My own family is affected by this proposal and within my neighborhood, especially for those of us unable to afford steep private school tuition, there is talk of fleeing to Germantown and the brand new district there. Others, without school-aged children, are harboring the idea of moving as well, with a fear of home values crashing in the near future. This is especially upsetting for families who intentionally purchased homes within specific school lines but now feel forced into making hard decisions due to the state of uncertainty being a part of SCS brings with it.
Options for Families
SCS does offer other educational options for families, through both transfers and optional school applications. Talk of open enrollment into GMSD is happening, but with new zones not finalized and the attendance of Germantown residents in GMSD schools unknown, there is still an air of uncertainty for non-residents.
When the 2014-2015 SCS optional school applications became available in January, parents camped out in freezing weather, hoping to obtain a coveted numbered application. These extreme measures were taken by parents out of desperation and SCS’s first-come, first-serve promise of admission, as well as a fear of being “stuck” in the schools their neighborhoods are zoned for.
Some have raised questions in defense of parents who did not “camp-out” for an application. Questions about the single parent, caring for their child and unable to wait outdoors in freezing weather for days. Or the families with children just entering kindergarten, without the possibility to apply for preferred optional schools due to age restrictions. What are families such as these to do in regards to choosing their child’s school for the fall.
Personally, I say more power to the city of Germantown and other suburban areas for creating their own districts and taking educational matters into their own hands. But should taxpaying residents outside of Germantown have to worry about home values and children’s education declining because of the perceived state of SCS schools as a whole?
The answer is no. Now, we will just have to wait and see if Shelby County listens to its residents’ requests and the outcome of the attendance zone vote. In the meantime, you can find my family house hunting in Germantown.