State could move 14 schools out of flood plains

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Posted at 6:21 PM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-02 07:05:13-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — During the state of the state, Gov. Bill Lee announced $200 million to move Tennessee schools out of flood plains.

Counties would get between $11 and $18 million to move the schools. There are 14 schools on the list. One is a high school and the rest middle and elementary schools. It includes both schools damaged by the flooding in Waverly.

"I spoke to the principal of one of the Waverly schools. She was there to save books with her daughter," said TN Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn. "The time it took for her to drive from one side of the building to the other to get her daughter, the floodwaters had already gone up to their knees. They pulled out the bleachers sitting on top, but imagine if that were a school day. It would be a very different, even more catastrophic, headline."

Though part of the state's more than $1 billion investment into the education system, some question whether the amount is enough to make a difference in the counties where schools will be located.

While Schwinn said the building cost would be covered by the state, the counties would be expected to provide the land, among other expenses.

"I don't think they've put enough money into that if they're actually going to build the school," said JC Bowman of Professional Educators of TN. "I understand, obviously, that they think that they're going to have the local input cover some of the other expenditures. They should've talked to the local governments about that because it's definitely going to drive taxes up."

Schwinn said the schools would have to pay for some contractors and the architecture of the building. Though, the state could help pay for the latter.

Humphreys County Director of Schools Richard Rye said the system hasn't talked with the state about the plan yet. He said there would be a meeting soon to go over the details.