Can the City of Brentwood Form a Municipal School District?
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
These and many other questions can be answered through a feasibilty study.
1. Q: Can we legally form a city school system?
A: Yes, as long as the city satisfies the six basic parameters as required by the Tennessee Board of Education per Chapter 0520-1-8 Creation or Reactivation of City School Systems.
2. Q: What will happen with the teachers?
A: Teachers that are licensed/certified, by law, will stay with their current school and will be re-hired by the new city school Superintendent and the city would cover the costs to maintain their pensions and benefits. The feasibility study will include these cost.
3. Q: Where will we put all of the buses? How much will it cost to buy them?
A: Buses do not have to be purchased.
In Shelby County, all of the new city schools outsource their buses/bus routes to a third party transportation company. Rutherford County uses independent contractors that has created a thriving cottage industry.
4. Q: Why should we pay a third-party consulting company to do the feasibility study? Couldn’t the City of Brentwood conduct an internal study to save tax dollars?
A: To get thorough and accurate information on what a city school system will cost Brentwood and its residents, a third-party consulting firm is necessary. Calculations such as the BEP (Basic Education Program) have complex factors that take up a tremendous amount of time and expertise that is beyond the capabilities of city staff. The Brentwood City Manager communicated to city commissioners during the 4/18/2017 informational meeting that city staff can do some of the work but for a full financial plan an outside firm will have to be used.
5. Q: What will happen to individuals who do not live within Brentwood City Limits? E.g. live in Williamson County but not Brentwood; live in Davidson County but have some of property in Williamson County.
A: The Brentwood City School Board will have the right to determine any exceptions to zoning. For example, the city could allow non-city residents to attend a city school if that school has capacity and agreed to by WCS. A small number of residents have homes on the Davidson County line but a portion of their property is located within Brentwood City limits and, through a inter-local agreement between Metro schools and WCS, those students attend a WCS school. The city of Brentwood could duplicate a similar inter-local agreement. The feasibility study will address capacity.
6. Q: Williamson County is a top-ranked county and well known. What will happen to the ranking of Brentwood schools, college admissions & school accreditation?
A: WCS is a top school district in our state – but our state’s education is ranked only 36th in the country. Brentwood Schools, based on current scores, would be ranked top 100 in the country. Accreditation will not be effected – accreditation stays with the schools but the new school district would need to undergo the accreditation process. Many school districts in Tennessee (about 50%) are just getting the schools accredited but not the district.
7. Q: Will Brentwood forming a school system hurt WCS?
A1: No, WCS will still be a top ranked system in the area based on ACT scores, second only to Brentwood Schools.
Ranking based Average ACT Scores as of August 2016
1) Brentwood Schools 26.1
2) Williamson County* Excluding Brentwood Schools 23.2
3) Wilson County 20.3
4) Rutherford County 20.2
5) Metro Nashville 18.4
(*Williamson County with Brentwood Schools: 23.9)
A2: The County will Continue to Receive an Estimated $4.7M in Net Taxes from Brentwood (after returning the school portion of taxes due back to Brentwood). Would BEP state funds increase for WCS and decrease for a Brentwood school system? The Feasibility Study will address these issues.
This $4.7M could service $81M in debt for the county! Could we be a funding solution?
8. Q: What will happen to our property values?
A: Germantown, Memphis property values increased 16% last year. We would be a top 100 national school system; Brentwood should expect property values to rise.
9. Q: Are the numbers presented in the expected growth per school zone considering existing home turnover?
10. Q: What is the time frame for forming BCS?
A: Depending on how quickly we can get moving on the study it could take approximately 3 years to form Brentwood City Schools.
11. q: Do the existing school buildings belong to WCS? Would we have to buy the existing schools?
A: There is no Tennessee statue that specifically addresses transferring control of school facilities to a newly formed municipal school district by a pre-existing county school system. There is a body of case law that involves annexation, such as the 1898 Tennessee Supreme Court decision in Prescott v. Town of Lennox that created a threshold principle that public property is not “owned” by a governmental instrumentality, but rather held in trust for the public. The cities with new school districts in Shelby County did not have to “buy” the schools and used the Prescott vs. The Town of Lennox case law.
There will certainly have to be negotiations between the City of Brentwood and the Williamson County School Board to determine how this transfer of ownership would work. The Shelby County School Board and the new city school systems reached a post feasibility study agreement regarding school buildings before the cities voted on creating a school system.
12. Q: Would we take over WCS debt?
A: No. Debt remains with the entity that originated it. Williamson County issues General Obligation Bonds and Brentwood residents will continue to pay county property taxes that are used to pay debt service on all county bonds just like all other tax payers in the county.
Contact your City Commissioners to share your thoughts and opinions.