Shelby Commission And Suburbs Negotiating School Settlement

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(Memphis) Attorneys for Shelby County and its suburbs are working out a deal that could drop the lawsuit to stop municipal schools.

If a settlement is reached, it would save taxpayers millions.

The lawsuit between the Shelby County Commission and the suburbs over municipal schools has been bitter, but both sides say the arguments have become less polarized recently.

The commission is even considering dropping the lawsuit.

Attorneys for each side are drawing up what they think a fair compromise will be.

Once they come up with a plan, each side will compare them and see if they agree.

Several months ago the first plans each side came up with looked so different attorneys had to go back to the drawing board.

“We thought we had reached an agreement then it got written on paper and we were like no. We didn’t say that,” said Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald.

McDonald thinks this time is different because tensions aren’t as high.

“Just based on the encounter we had this last time I have more reason to be optimistic,” said McDonald.

McDonald says the suburbs may have to give a little in some areas in order to have the lawsuit dropped.

Those areas include are how they draw attendance zones and school building takeovers.

County Commissioner Walter Bailey is one of the main driving forces behind the lawsuit.

He agrees tension between the parties has died down, but he claims they aren’t going to roll over for the suburbs.

“Do the municipalities take those students who are not in the municipality? That’s a concern. There’s a diversity concern, and that as I understand are the two primary issues,” said Bailey.

Shelby County Schools also has an attorney in the talks and the board must approve any settlement.

Both parties say that plan is being negotiated right now and could come out anytime soon.