(Memphis) The Shelby County School Board as we know it is meeting for the last time.
The board is dropping from 23 to seven members tonight, and some are giving the 23 a failing grade over transportation, personnel and security problems.
Over the past year, this 23 member board, forced together by a federal judge, merged the Memphis and Shelby County school districts.
As the board spends its final hours sorting out security problems, some board members are blaming continuing problems on that board’s shortcomings.
“Right today, some kid could take a loaded weapon into school and someone could be shot to death,” said school board member Kenneth Whalum.
The Shelby County School Board is being called a disaster by Whalum.
He says security is only the beginning of problems stemming from what he calls a rush to merge the districts after Memphis City School gave up its charter.
“If time wasn’t an issue we’d be waiting until the suburbs formed its systems and we wouldn’t have fired 2000 people. We wouldn’t have children in limbo,” said Whalum.
Over the past year, the 23 member scrambled to create one of the largest school districts in the nation.
It is the largest school merger in US history.
Families in Memphis and Shelby County were promised a world-class system under the new district, but Whalum claims that’s a joke.
“We’re a month into the school year dude, and we don’t even have no security plan. Where is that an A?! Where is the success?” said Whalum.
Tonight’s Whalum’s last meeting until a special election for seat held by his opponent Kevin Woods after widespread voting problems.
“I think we’ve done a remarkable job under the circumstance, the time frame and the legal and political obstacles we’ve had and the sheer number of board members,” said board member Chris Caldwell.
Caldwell is sticking around as one of the seven and says the school board has worked hard to shoot for that world-class system.
“We found more efficiencies than the TPC did and we got it done in a short time frame. It’s not going to be perfect, but we did the best we could,” said Caldwell.
A big aspect of Tuesday’s meeting is that security plan and board members tell me they already met today on school security, but that meeting was private.