Shelby County Board of Education Shuts Down Discussion of Merger Delay

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(Memphis) The Shelby County Board of Education voted Monday night against discussing a resolution to delay the school merger.

Commissioner Tomeka Hart proposed the resolution, which reads in part:

"Transferring the administration of MCS to SCS prior to the close of the 2013 legislative session and prior to a final adjudication of the pending lawsuits is imprudent and may be unnecessarily disruptive to all the students in Shelby County.

Moreover, making decisions regarding a merged school district when the is a strong likelihood that municipal districts will be created, and the merger will be undone after start of the 2013-2014 school year would be unnecessarily disruptive to students and employees, and would constitute a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Accordingly, this Board hereby directs the Superintendents of MCS and SCS to take measures to seek an extension of the merger date. Such measures should include, but not be limited to, working with the parties of the pending lawsuits in requesting an extension from the Court and/or requesting that the original Norris Todd bill be amended to allow school districts governed by the law to request, and be granted, a one year extension of the merger date."

After this resolution failed to be put on the agenda, Commissioner Patrice Robinson introduced another resolution with a similar intention that also failed to pass.

However, a different resolution by Robinson, regarding community input for naming this unified district, has been approved for next week's agenda.

If anyone brings up a resolution to delay the merger again, it will only be discussed if two thirds of the board agree to it.

Commissioners like David Reaves were open to the delay as late as Friday. But he said he's changed his mind after giving it more thought.

"I think what I realized was that we were looking at $145 million right now. If we were to leave the two districts apart without implementing any of the efficiencies, we'd be talking $225, $230. Up to $250 million," Reaves said.

He's referring to the cuts that would come from eliminating duplicate roles in central administration. He said that leaving all those positions intact would create more money problems for both districts.

Chairman Billy Orgel also voted against the discussion.

"Our parents, our students, our administrators, are all expecting us to be ready to open school on August 5th next year, and I think we need to stay the course," Orgel said.

In addition, many have discussed the unlikely chance that all the parties in the consent order would agree to moving the timeline back.

The dates for merging the district were agreed upon by multiple parties, including the city of Memphis.

The city of Memphis would very likely have to continue paying Memphis City Schools $64 million next year if MCS does not become Shelby County Schools.

Councilman Jim Strickland said that in that case, "The city of Memphis taxpayers will receive a huge tax increase."

Meanwhile, the merged district is already asking for $145 million in county taxpayer dollars to make up its deficit.

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