Shelby County Election Commission Halts Plans for Schools Vote

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(Shelby County, TN) The Shelby County Election Commission unanimously voted to halt plans to move forward with requests from suburban Shelby County cities and towns about creating new school districts.

Germantown, Collierville, Bartlett, Arlington and Lakeland were planning to hold elections May 10, 2012.

The elections would have allowed citizens to vote on whether to raise the sales tax by a half-cent in order to pay for new suburban school districts.

The planning for these new districts began after the recent vote to merge Memphis and Shelby County Schools.

However, an opinion released Tuesday by Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper said the suburbs' plans were not legal because they had to wait for the merger to be completed first.

In his opinion Cooper said, "...a municipality in Shelby County can take no action, which would include the holding of a referendum, to establish a school district until from and after the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, assuming the transition is complete by that date."

After hearing the Attorney General's opinion, Shelby County Election Commission Attorney John Ryder stood behind it, stating that the suburbs' plan was "procedurally defective."

"We would conclude that the requests do not meet all of the procedural requirements for placement on the ballot," Ryder said in a meeting Wednesday afternoon.

The Election Commission then decided to notify the suburban municipalities that their vote would not happen, at least not May 10, 2012.

Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald told News Channel 3 over the phone Wednesday that he would talk with his city's attorneys about their next move.

When we first showed him the Attorney General's opinion Tuesday, McDonald appeared relatively unphased.

"We've said from the beginning there's a possibility of roadblocks, stumbling blocks," he said.  "We're going to have a municipal school system.  It's a just a matter of when."