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Arguments Over Appointing or Electing New School Board Members

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(Memphis) A federal judge says a 13 member school board will represent more of the community.

The Shelby County Commission wants to appoint the six new members by September first.

That’s when the twenty-three member board drops to seven.

Shelby suburb leaders say not so fast.

The suburbs say the commission wants to appoint the members so they have the power and influence over decision making, not you the voter.

“I just think that it’s human nature that you listen to the people who put you where you are,” said the suburbs’ attorney Thomas Cates.

Cates is asking the judge not to increase the board at all and sighted the difficulty with the twenty-three member board making decisions because of their size.

He says a larger board will run in to similar problems.

Judge Mays said having some people in the county represented by an appointed member and others represented by an elected member could create constitutional problems.

County Commission chairman Mike Ritz says what's really wrong is lack of representation, “This community has a lot of neighborhoods in it and you cannot cover all of those neighborhoods with seven. You end up consolidating neighborhoods that aren't consistent with each other."

For that reason, Ritz wants to increase the board from seven to thirteen, and the sooner the better.

“We're ready to appoint them now, and the judge wants them to be elected. The earliest they can be elected is December,” said Ritz.

A special election for the six new members would cost tax payers almost a half million dollars.

The Shelby County Election Commission says it would take until the end of the year to prepare for an election.