Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Memphis City Schools Superintendent Ushers In A Stronger Role For Planning

Memphis City Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson took a major step forward Monday in pursuing the more influential role that she envisions the district playing in the redevelopment of Memphis neighborhoods and as a leader for smart growth.

To a standing ovation from school board members, she announced that she hired Louise Mercuro, now deputy director of Memphis and Shelby County Division of Planning and Development, to become a key member of her staff. It portends good things for the district, because Ms. Mercuro has been the driving force behind OPD’s involvement in some projects like the Broad Avenue Corridor Planning Initiative, the Unified Development Code and the new controls over sexually-oriented businesses.

Based on the response from Dr. Johnson’s enthusiastic comments and the board’s equally enthusiastic response, there seems to be a clear understanding of the disadvantage that the district has had in all kinds of issues because of a lack of current data and professional planning. The issues range all the way from attendance zones for individual schools to negotiations with the Shelby County School District over new schools to deliberations of the Schools Needs Assessment Committee.

In her Five-Year Facilities Master Plan, the superintendent laid out “new directions” for the district, including joint use of schools with neighborhood organizations, adaptive reuse of former schools and development of surplus land owned by the district.

With this hire, it’s obvious that these directions weren’t just filler for the master plan, but serious objectives for Memphis City Schools. With city neighborhoods needing all the help they can get, the more active involvement of the district is good news and important progress.


Anonymous said...

A huge loss for OPD! An even bigger gain for our schools. If Dr. Johnson wants integrity and dedication she's gotten it with Louise.

She has more planning knowledge than most of the rest of us at OPD combined. She's been a teacher, a mentor and a great boss.

She will be missed around City Hall.

Larry said...

I just wish they would not build a school along a heavily used street.

I used to work off Getwell. If I worked a dayshift, I got off just as school was letting out.

Seven lanes on Getwell come to crawl worse than rush hour when school lets out.

Now near my home in Midtown, they just opened the new school that sits right on Sam Cooper (at Collins)!

Anonymous said...

Wonder what she thinks of the "plans" to relocate Fairview? Anyone else think that is a stupid idea?

Smart City Consulting said...

It's possible that some people planning the future of the Mid-South Fairgrounds may be forgetting that Memphis City Schools controls and will make the decision on the future of Fairview, a historic building and much improved school under Dr. Johnson's reform programs. It's sometimes ironic that city and county governments tend to see themselves as the dominating force in these decisions, when the city schools' budget and workforce exceeds either of them. We predict the future of Fairview will be made by MCS and no one else.

Anonymous said...

She's been the kind of person who taught of us what a professional planner is supposed to be like. Call it like you see, regardless of the political pressure to say something else, and always giving 110%. All of the professionals in City Hall will miss her.

Anonymous said...

the windmills won, eh?

Anonymous said...

The real question for the rest of us is how many of us in OPD can go with her.

Anonymous said...

To those very kind anonymous bloggers:

We learned together, we worked together, we grew together. We produced some really terrific planning documents. You supported me and I hope I supported you.

On a personal level, I watched you created families; I marvelled at your children and grandchildren.

I worried with you as you worked through earning your degrees. I kept my fingers crossed as you pursued bigger and better positions.

The challenges I have chosen to accept are daunting, but so very exciting.

I wish I could take every single one of you with me.

Thank you for all the years of friendship.


Anonymous said...


and dont let the door bang ya in the butt!!!!