Memphis City School Board to consider compromise - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis City School Board to consider compromise

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis City School Board members debated Thursday night whether they should discuss a compromise that would delay the charter surrender referendum for one year.

The Shelby County School Board said it wants to strike a deal with the city school board.  They asked the board to take back its vote to surrender the charter and study school consolidation.  The county school board promised it would not to seek special school district status.

After a long fight, the majority of city school board members agreed to at least consider the offer.

City school board attorney Dorsey Hopson was the messenger.

"Shelby County has asked this board to rescind its vote to surrender its charter," said Hopson.

The county school board asked the city school board to take back their surrender and work with them.  They hope to assemble a team of experts to study merging city and county schools.  In no less than 18 months, they would allow city and county voters to vote on the issue.

Some school board members, like Stephanie Gatewood, said they have no interest in the county's compromise.

Newest and returning school board member Sara Lewis said she would not be able to sleep at night until the voters are educated on what merging the two districts would mean to them and their children.

"I hate to turn on the television," said Lewis.  "And I hate to get calls from out of town, because they want to know what's next in this great comedy that is going on in Memphis City Schools."

Jeff Warren agreed voters deserved to know what they are voting on, but said there is not much time for discussion.

In the end, a majority of board members voted to schedule a work session to review the proposal.

There was no word Thursday on when that work session will take place.

Board members voted down a motion from Gatewood to gather all the facts on school consolidation and come up with a communication plan to educate the public on what they have learned.

Click here to read the charter surrender compromise agreement.


Late Thursday night, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton issued the following statement on the referendum:

"We live in a country with laws, principles and procedures that govern us to ensure that the rights of its citizens are protected. There is not a right more precious than the right to vote.  On this historic weekend celebration, we all can attest to that fact. The Memphis City Schools Board has legally asked a question of its citizens, and now in turn we will have an opportunity to respond with our vote.

"I'm pleased that the Election Commission has taken a step in the right direction. This is a uniquely Memphis issue and it is a decision that rests only with voters in our city.

"I pledge to continue supporting a public debate that is civil and robust.  It is critical for Memphians to study this issue, ask probing questions of it, and ultimately vote for our children's future educational plan.  Whether you have children or grandchildren who attend public school or not; whether you work for education or not, education is everybody's business. And I encourage you to participate in this process.

"I wish I could say it's all over. But in many respects, it has just begun, and I will continue to monitor future events as they unfold. I assure you that we will get through it and not only be a better city for it, but one closer to my dream of One Memphis."

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