We represented Shelby County Schools (SCS) Board in a transaction to secure funding bringing laptop computers to 95,000+ students in the District. By providing these new devices and WiFi access to students in the District, each student will have the proper materials to participate in online learning this year. Students are scheduled to have a laptop or tablet by November 2020. The investment in students, which was announced on June 16, is a historic step for the District in bridging the digital divide and builds upon the ongoing Equity in Action Plan, which aims to ensure all students have the same access to academic support.
COVID-19 highlighted the lack of internet access and technology for many students and families in Memphis, Tennessee. This deal is part of a broader $37 million plan to enable all students to learn online. The transaction was formed through a lease-purchase agreement with Microsoft and Hewlett Packard. The funding included federal coronavirus relief dollars through the CARES Act Fund, as well as government bonds from Shelby County and the City of Memphis.
The deal team was led by Bass, Berry & Sims corporate attorney Al Bright. Firm attorneys Lillian Blackshear and Mark Mamantov advised on finance and bond-related issues.
“We were thrilled to be a part of this important project for Shelby County. With the current COVID-19 environment and early spring school closures, the lack of internet access and technology for many students in Memphis was a significant concern. I am fortunate we were able to play a small role in helping SCS make this happen for our Memphis students and families,” said lead deal attorney Al Bright.
“This was a historic win for the students of Shelby County Schools (SCS) as we made another significant stride in improving digital access for more than 95,000 students,” said SCS General Counsel & Chief Legal Officer, Kenneth M. Walker II. Bridging the digital divide is the ongoing focus of the SCS Board and Superintendent Dr. Joris M. Ray, and our partners at Bass, Berry & Sims helped advance the District’s priority to ensure access for all.”
To read the full press release issued by the Shelby County Board of Education (SCS), click here. The transaction was highlighted in several media outlets, including:
- “Laptops and tablets coming to Memphis students starting in August,” Commercial Appeal (June 16, 2020)
- “SCS board votes Thursday on take-home digital devices for all students,” Daily Memphian (June 11, 2020)
- “Laptops and tablets coming to Memphis students starting in August,” Chalkbeat Tennessee (June 15, 2020)
- “Bridging the digital divide: SCS students to receive laptops this fall,” WMC Action News 5 (June 16, 2020)
Bass, Berry & Sims has long been a preeminent public finance and economic development law firm in Tennessee with experience that extends across the Southeast. Closing more than 400 transactions valued at a combined total of $10.5 billion over the past three years, our clients benefit from unique insight, efficient service and subject-matter knowledge earned from thousands of transactions and decades of leadership in public finance. We represent local governments, nonprofits and financial institutions, serving as bond counsel, underwriters and disclosure counsel in the full-range of public financing matters. Our corporate and securities practice encompasses mergers and acquisitions, capital markets transactions, corporate governance and shareholder activism. We serve as primary corporate and securities counsel to more than 35 public companies and have counseled on 150 deals ranging in size from $20 million to more than $15 billion over the past two years. The team and our attorneys have been consistently recognized in leading industry outlets, including Chambers USA – ranked as a top corporate firm in Tennessee since 2003 – and M&A Advisor Award recipient for – “M&A Deal of the Year ($10MM-$25MM)” and “Healthcare and Life Sciences Deal of the Year (Over $100MM-$1B)” in 2018; and “M&A Deal of the Year (From $1B-$5B)” and “Corporate/Strategic Deal of the Year (Over $1B)” in 2017.