Like organizations and residents across the Mid-South, Memphis-Shelby County Schools crews spent the last few days assessing, repairing, and monitoring damage from the Dec. 23-24 winter storm and Arctic blast. Dedicated employees worked Christmas Eve, New Year’s Day, and everyday in between ensuring that the schools affected by the storm were operational for students’ return to class on Tuesday, Jan. 3. Nationwide damage from the storm has been estimated at $5.4 billion.
“Our facilities and grounds teams have done a Herculean job in response to Winter Storm Elliott, which produced record-breaking low temperatures and left thousands without power nationwide,” said Superintendent Toni Williams. “I thank our crews for the countless hours they spent over the holidays taking care of our buildings so that principals and teachers can keep their focus on taking care of our students.”
About one in four schools district wide were affected by the storm, ranging from power outages to a ruptured fieldhouse sprinkler. Coil replacements in HVAC units were one of the most common repairs. Restoring classrooms, restrooms, and cafeterias were the highest priority. In the coming days, crews will continue to make repairs to additional spaces such as music rooms and gyms.
All identified safety concerns were addressed. Cosmetic work is ongoing. The cost estimate, including supplies and overtime hours, is still being calculated.
One challenge is that MSCS has 33 schools that are more than 50 years old, and maintaining aging infrastructure, especially after severe weather, requires more skill and attention. The District looks forward to reviewing soon with our School Board and funding bodies a 10-year infrastructure improvement plan. MSCS joins the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the American Association of Civil Engineers in supporting nationwide investment in school infrastructure.