Commission and Schools Clash Over Budget

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(Memphis) The Shelby County Commission and the school district are clashing over the unified schools proposed budget.

The district presented that plan Wednesday and faced some tough questions from commissioners about why it can’t cut more and spare a tax increase to cover the tens of millions of additional dollars they want.

The school district is asking the county for $30 million dollars more than last year and they say it’s because they’ve lost over a hundred million dollars in revenue.

The superintendent says they’ve cut down to the bare bones, but commissioners say more savings can still be made.

“We have gotten to a point where we don’t think we can provide the same educational opportunities if we go below thirty,” said Hopson.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson says they’ve cut nearly 1300 jobs and grown class sizes to bring the budget costs down.

Commissioner Wyatt Bunker says there are still cuts to be made.

For example, the district’s head of security makes over $150,000 a year with less than 200 employees under him.

Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong doesn’t make that much and he has thousands of employees.

“I’m the security head for a pretty major corporation here in the Memphis area and we’re not worth that.  Alright?” said Bunker.

Commissioners say the district needs to take another look at administrative pay scales, but Hopson says they’ve cut tens of millions in administrative costs.

Commissioner Chris Thomas says he’s concerned with the district's administration for a different reason, “70% are MCS and 30% are SCS. Memphis city schools gave up their charter and now they’re trying to run the school system."

Commissioner Walter Bailey is concerned with the budget’s impact on custodial workers who will now be outsourced after years of dedication to the districtl, “You’re going to have the same employees probably but working for a different company for less money."

Bailey says the he’s willing to raise taxes to fund the $30 Million and Commissioner Sidney Chism agrees, “Some of my colleagues don’t want to give you a dime.  They don’t care if it folds up. They don’t care if the kids are educated or not."

Plans in the works to actually come up with that money would raise your property tax rate and that will have to be decided before the schools can get their money.