Five options to upgrade Bartlett High School debuted at the March 30 school board meeting. All five address the growing student population and the aging buildings, but one plan was millions of dollars less expensive.
A spokesman for Memphis-based Fleming Architects listed the choices:
- Option 1: Building a new school at a new location for grades 9-12 that would bring all athletics back to campus. Shelby County Schools would take possession of the current BHS campus and the Academy. Price tag: More than $110 million.
- Option 2: Building a new school at a new location for grades 10-12, and relocating the Ninth Grade Academy to the current high school site. Shelby County Schools would take possession of the Academy. Price tag: More than $100 million, not including the updates that would have to be made to the current BHS campus before the Academy could be relocated.
- Option 3: Building a new school at a new location for grades 10-12, and keeping the Academy at its current location. Shelby County Schools would take possession of the current BHS campus. Price tag: $90 million to $100 million.
- Option 4: Expanding the existing campus for grades 9-12 by purchasing property adjacent to the campus and upgrading existing buildings. Price tag: $80 million to $100 million.
- Option 5: Expanding and updating the existing campus to accommodate 2,250 students in grades 10-12, and keeping the Academy at its current location. Price tag: $55 million to 60 million.
No. 5 got the experts’ recommendation and the crowd’s murmured approval.
If Option 5 reaches final approval, renovations would include:
- Expanding classroom capacity.
- Creating one main entrance to the school instead of multiple entrances that make it unclear where visitors should go.
- Updating the library, cafeteria, auditorium, fine arts and Career and Technical Education (CTE) areas, gymnasium, and other athletic facilities.
- Improving efficiency and security by eliminating excess entry points to the building and limiting the intersection of vehicle traffic with popular walking paths.
- Adding lobby spaces between the buildings and bringing all the buildings under one roof. The current facility doesn’t have a space within the school that can hold all students at the same time.
- Increasing on-site parking to 750 spaces instead of the current allotment of about 330.
- Updating the quality and aesthetics of the high school’s environment.
- Dr. David Stephens, superintendent of Bartlett City Schools, commissioned the architectural firm in 2014. Fleming spent two years gathering the opinions of students, faculty and community members before narrowing choices down to the five presented options.
“A modern school that offers exemplary academics will attract new families to Bartlett and
continue to drive the economic and civic growth of this community,” Stephens said. “Renovating
now is the most responsible and sensible option for our community.”
Projections show that by 2019, the school will need portable buildings to accommodate additional students, and the buildings need work. The campus hasn’t had a major renovation in almost 40 years. The original structure was built in 1917, with more construction and renovation in 1950 and 1963. The most recent renovations were in 1978 with the construction of several academic buildings and the football facilities.
Total enrollment at the high school is currently 1,820 and is expected to exceed 2,000 within the next two years. Option 5 would allow Bartlett High to serve 2,250 students in grades 10-12 and continue to educate freshmen at the Bartlett Ninth Grade Academy. Bartlett has the largest population of students in grades 9-12 in Tennessee.
The timing of the project would allow the school to avoid paying for portable classrooms and
much of the $70 million projected in deferred maintenance, left over from the district’s time under Shelby County Schools.
Renovation and construction at Bartlett High would be conducted in phases over three years to minimize disruptions to the learning environment. If the city board approves funding in June, construction could start in early 2018.
Jeff Norris, school board chairman, said, “Bartlett City Schools continue to be recognized for excellence, and it is time that our facilities reflect that quality. The continued growth of our student body makes this the perfect time for this kind of renovation.”
Norris said the school board plans to host a town hall meeting in April to get more community input during the next steps of renovation planning. Displays will be erected at area schools this month and in May to spread the word.
Citizens also may email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Bartlett City Schools administrative offices at (901) 202-0855.
Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.