Dear Percy Priest Family,

We need your help! Please read this letter in its entirety to understand how you can advocate for 5th grade at Percy Priest and in our cluster.

What’s the issue?

A subcommittee of the PTO Executive Board has been quietly exploring the timeline and requirements for moving 5th grade to the elementary schools within our cluster, in connection with the MNPS ReimaginED initiative. A key piece of this initiative is moving 5th grade down to elementary schools.

Studies have shown that having 5th grade in elementary schools:
1) is developmentally appropriate;
2) follows best practices for K-12 education; and
3) will lead to beneficial academic, social, and emotional outcomes for our children.

MNPS has said that they will only move 5th grade down on a cluster-by-cluster basis (not one school at a time) and so the question is not just about our school but rather all elementary schools in the Hillsboro Cluster.

Over the last three months, numerous people across town – who understand MNPS and our school’s building limitations – have been kind enough to talk with us, and answer our questions.  We have learned that our school is the catalyst for our entire cluster to include 5th grade in elementary schools, and that moving 5th grade down in our cluster is singularly dependent on Percy Priest receiving funds to build a new school.

The bottom line: Until Percy Priest has a new building and can accommodate more students for the long term, no elementary schools in our cluster can include 5th grade.

What will it take?

As many of you know, our school has been in the top tier of the MNPS Capital Improvements Budget (“CIB”) list for a number of years. Over the course of those years, our project has evolved from a “renovation” to a “new build” because the cost to repair by now is simply too high.

The budgeting process for MNPS is complex. MNPS makes an annual request to the Mayor’s office for its operating budget as well as the CIB. The Mayor’s team looks at what money Davidson County has and what the priorities are, and then publishes a recommended budget (including a Capital Spending Plan, which is for projects on the CIB). The budget is then debated among and passed by the Metro Council. This is not a linear process. We know that there is plenty of ongoing dialog between MNPS, the Mayor’s office, and the Metro Council as budgets are determined.

In recent years, the timeline for the Capital Spending Plan has morphed. This has been caused by lean budget years and then by Covid. We have learned that for this year, decisions will be made in November for next year.

We believe the time has come for our cluster, and especially Percy Priest, to step into this conversation and voice our desire for money to be allocated to our school. The key voices in this conversation are our school board member and the metro councilmen who represent families in our cluster.

How you can help!

If you are a parent who would like 5th grade to be moved down to Percy Priest, or even if you just want a new building, we ask that you contact each of the people below and request that they vouch for our project. Please let them know that you are one of their constituents.

We are a kind and thoughtful community and we expect that all communications will be respectful and professional – please craft your email with that in mind. It is of the utmost importance that we use our voice in a positive and effective manner. The success of the project getting approved hinges on these relationships.

School Board
Gini Pupo-Walker – District 8 (virginia.pupo-walker@mnps.org)

Metro Council
Colby Sledge – District 17 (colby.sledge@nashville.gov)
Tom Cash – District 18 (tom.cash@Nashville.gov)
Kathleen Murphy – District 24 (kathleen@murphyformetro.com)
Russ Pulley – District 25 (russ.pulley@nashville.gov)
Angie Henderson – District 34 (angie.henderson@nashville.gov)

Time is of the essence because these conversations are happening now and will conclude some time in November. Please reach out to us with questions. We are trying to schedule a meeting so that you can ask specific questions of the MNPS Planning and Construction Team about our building project and its timeline once funded. We hope to follow with information about this in future communications.

Sincerely,

Nahed Artoul Zehr, President, Percy Priest Elementary PTO, nartoul@gmail.com

Katie Agnew, Vice President, Percy Priest Elementary PTO, katie.r.agnew@gmail.com