NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Moving schools out of flood-prone areas will have to wait until the next legislative session after Tennessee lawmakers slashed funding to do so.
The idea emerged after the Waverly flood in 2021, where 17 inches of water flooded the area. The floodwaters left 20 people dead in its wake. Part of the floodwaters hit schools in Humphreys County severely damaging two campuses. Water lines reached the tops of door frames, turning classrooms upside down.
Gov. Bill Lee announced in his original budget to plan $200 million to replace 14 schools identified in the state. As originally outlined, counties would get between $11 and $18 million to move the schools.
In discussions, the idea met the chopping block. This made Rep. Jay Reedy, R-Erin, disappointed in that outcome, considering his district covers Humphreys County. He noted he went to lawmakers asking them to deliver on the promise to move those two schools and to add to his frustration, his schools weren't on the original list for removal. Back in August, a petition with 2,000 signaturescalled for the relocation of Waverly Elementary and Waverly Junior High schools.
"We got $20 million for schools," Reedy said. "The question now is where will the new buildings be located, as I understand it's next to the high school where they already own property, they own the infrastructure, sewer and water."
Still, that leaves more than a dozen schools that won't be moved even with the plan.
During discussions over the budget item, lawmakers said there was too much confusion about which schools should go on the list. As of now, the $200 million could go back into the state's rainy day fund. That would balloon the fund to nearly $1.8 million.
SCHOOLS IN FLOOD-PRONE AREAS
- Wooddale Middle School, Achievement School District
- Wynn Habersham Elementary, Campbell County
- Hampton High School, Carter County
- Edgemont Elementary, Cocke County
- Richland Elementary, Giles County
- Clifton Hills Elementary, Hamilton County
- Erin Elementary, Houston County
- Gainesboro Elementary, Jackson County
- Pittman Center Elementary, Sevier County
- Lowrance Elementary/Middle, Shelby County
- American Way Middle, Shelby County
- Forks River Elementary, Smith County
- Station Camp Middle School, Sumner County
- Nolensville Elementary, Williamson County