MSCS Recovers from 2022 Arctic Blast

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. 

Over the semester break, the District’s new Chief of Business Operations, Julius Muse, a U.S. Navy veteran with an eye for efficiency, supervised school repairs and discussed hotspots with principals. 

“With such a significant undertaking, it was essential that we worked in partnership not only with our school leaders but also with Memphis, Light, Gas, and Water, and our Shelby County Office of Code Enforcement,” said Muse. “Because of this team approach, we were able to ensure that students had safe spaces to return to today.”

MSCS encourages families and teachers wishing to share an area of need to contact their school principal, call our District helpline at (901) 416-5300, or email us at [email protected].

Memphis-Shelby County Schools offers educational and employment opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, sex, creed, age, disability, national origin, or genetic information.