New schools, rezoning?

636366758415397659-JS-0726-EricJones-02.jpg

Omer Yusuf, USA TODAY NETWORK

Jackson-Madison County Schools Superintendent Eric Jones has unveiled his 10-year capital proposal — estimated to cost $144 million — to address the district’s school buildings 30 years or older.

The proposal stems from a TLM report in May, which reported JMCSS faced an estimated $148 million in capital repair to keep those school buildings — which are facing HVAC, roofing and structural issues — up to par.

Jones said the proposal is about doing what’s right for children, and spending every tax dollar in an effective and efficient way.

“We are also going to leverage all the resources we have in this community, through business, through universities and colleges (in the region),” Jones said.  “Leveraging resources they have so JMCSS students can leave with more options and opportunities.”

Highlights of the proposal

Jones’s proposal — which he stresses is only a conversation starter — includes moving Lincoln Elementary School to Whitehall, former home of the district’s Pre-K program, or Parkview Learning Center by next summer. If Lincoln moved to Parkview, Parkview could possibly move to Whitehall.

Alexander Elementary and Pope Elementary would be closed in 2020, along with building a new K-8 school in the northwest cluster of the district and a new middle school in the east cluster of the district behind Jackson Central-Merry High School by the fall of 2020.

Jones said if those changes occurred, rezoning would likely happen in 2020. North Parkway Middle School would become a K-8, rezoned to North Side High School.

There are also plans to build a third new school, a possible new Madison High School in Fall of 2020 at the University of Memphis at Lambuth campus.

Other additions include building a center site sports facility for football and soccer, moving JCM Early College High to Jackson State Community College, and having a workforce development center focused on advanced manufacturing and health science at JCM Early College High.

School board chairman Bob Alvey said while the board is ready to engage about Jones’ proposal, his primary goal is to see how the proposal ties in with improving student performance.

“The role of the board is not so much about the buildings but the instruction,” Alvey said. “What I’m really looking for is, how does this help us move the ability of our students to be successful to move on into their careers?”

Praise for Jones’ plan

Madison County Commissioner Jay Bush (moderate Republican) said Jones’ plan is well-thought out and points the school system in the right direction.

“I’ve been pushing for this since I’ve been on the commission,” Bush said. “We haven’t built a school in Madison County for a long time. Anyone who walks around in our schools, they’ve not been well-maintained over the years.”

So once you have gotten the approval of one moderate let us go after another known moderate

Jackson Chamber President/CEO Kyle Spurgeon  said if this proposal — or a similar one — passes, it could be the number one item that transforms Jackson-Madison County.

“We have people who choose not to live here because of the perception of our public schools,” Spurgeon said. “If we can change the reality plus the perception of our public schools, Jackson will grow in ways we’ve never imagined.”

Funding the proposal

Jones — and the district — will have to get more budgeted in capital projects from the Madison County Commission than in previous years. The County Commission has budgeted $5.3 million in capital projects over the past two fiscal years, far less than the $8.3 million requested from the school board.

“We’ve got a lot on our table,” Deaton said. “We’re looking at the expense of the jail, expense of possibly a new school, the high cost of maintaining everything that hasn’t been maintained properly in the past.”

So here comes the meat of the matter…. lets get the public to approve a plan of a group that over the years have had a horrible track record of spending and give them more of it to toss away.

Bush said money will always be the biggest hurdle and it will take community support for Jones’ plan to succeed.

“If Dr. Jones’ 10-year plan becomes a reality, we can be in the position to really have a successful school system, and successful students coming out of it,” Bush said.

Moving forward

While there is no set timetable for Jones’ proposal to be voted on, Jones said some decisions must be made sooner than others because of the effect it could have on capital requests for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Jones said he is hopeful, even if the proposal is adjusted, the goal remains the same —  (here it comes again) doing what’s right for the children.

“It is about having our children and our faculty, staff in schools feel safe and feel good about coming to school, and that’s a huge part of setting a good climate and culture,” Jones said. “We’re not asking for things that are above and beyond. We’re asking for necessities for schools to be able to operate, and (the) best for our students.”


In 2016, the Madison County School Budget from the county was $103.8 million dollars with $19 million more spent on federal and cafeteria areas for a total of $124 million dollars rounded. The system claims 13,000 students. This averages out to over $9,500.00 per student, which is just slightly less than the average tuition at one of the best private schools in the county. The private schools have the same problems that the public schools have yet the achievements are different.

Why do you think that is?

%d bloggers like this: