Mayor John Cooper released a new spending plan for city infrastructure today that puts the bulk of new funds toward schools.
Of his $474.6 million plan, Cooper says a record $191 million will fund improvements to 45 school buildings and the construction of three new schools, including a long-discussed replacement for Hillwood High School in Bellevue. The current, 60-year-old building in the Hillwood neighborhood ranks among the lowest Metro Schools for facility quality.
Nearly $68 million will be allocated for school maintenance and repairs, with a focus on HVAC systems.
The mayor’s plan is getting support from Metro Council’s budget chair, Councilmember Kyontzè Toombs. She says she is still digging into the plan, but she appreciates the investment in schools.
“They’re not just educating kids or their counselors, they’re providing food,” Toombs says. “I mean, they’re really doing wraparound services for our children.”
Toombs says it is her priority that the city gives Metro Public Schools most — if not all — the money it needs, which historically hasn’t been done.
The mayor’s plan also pays for public safety efforts like reopening a downtown fire station, which Cooper says would have been among the first to respond to the bombing on Christmas Day. About $15 million will help create a new police precinct for Antioch.
A budget shortfall largely prevented Metro from pursuing these types of projects in the past year. During the current fiscal year, the city plans to spend just $154 million on capital projects, down from a high of $351 million in 2019 and $288 million in 2018.