Attorneys Negotiate Compromise over Municipal Schools

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(Memphis)  Shelby County’s suburbs are planning for their own schools to open next August after overwhelmingly voting to approve independent schools and a tax to pay for them.

But negations going on right now could stop those schools from opening.

A federal judge has given both sides a week from Tuesday to come to a decision about the schools.

“Every time these attorneys meet together with the mayors, and county commissioners they are taking away public dollars that should be used to improve public education,” said Shelby County School Board Member David Pickler.

Pickler says it's time to wrap up this expensive process, and says today's negotiations could do just that: end the arguing and move forward with municipal or unified schools, “It gives you the greatest opportunity to reach a settlement that would let all parties move forward together in a positive manner."

He says the settlement could come in the form of a compromise where the commission would drop their lawsuit to stop municipal schools if the municipal schools agree to open in a few years instead of next August, “People have worked hard for a long time to get to this point and I think it will be hard for them to back off of that 2013 date."

The county may need that delay to figure out where it will get money from if it loses forty thousand students to municipal schools.

Money to fund the unified schools will be based on the number of students, and fewer students means less money for schools.

Pickler says they could also compromise on the use of school buildings, “As you know I'm a very strong proponent that the buildings should follow the students and the suburbs should get the school buildings without any additional costs to the tax payers of the suburban communities."

And then the other option is of course they could not compromise at all in this mediation and the judge will decide for them.

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