Council delays vote on school budget

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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Memphis City Council and Memphis City Schools went at it again Tuesday over school funding.

As of right now, the school system has two years of unapproved budgets.  Last month, Memphis City Schools submitted an $875 million budget.  Tuesday, a Council committee delayed a vote to approve the budget over a $13 million squabble that had the superintendent hot under the collar.

"I've got to start school in two weeks.  I lose sleep over this.  I truly do."

Memphis City Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash said those words after the City Council Education Committee delayed the vote on his budget.

"I'm a little surprised that we've had this amount of confusion today," Council member Wanda Halbert said.

The two sides have two different calculations on how much the city should pay for schools. The schools say $84 million, while the city says $71 million.

"It'll probably be about $10 million less than the previous year based on your declining enrollment," Council attorney Allan Wade said.

"We're not presenting bogus numbers here," Memphis City School Board president Martavius Jones countered.

Committee Chair Janis Fullilove called to delay a committee vote on the budget to set up a meeting to clarify discrepancies.  Cash said the numbers haven't changed since the last meeting two weeks ago.

"These issues could have gotten addressed in the interim between that meeting and this meeting," he said.

Fullilove said the delay would allow for a meeting between council members, school board members, and attorneys.  Cash, who wondered why such a meeting hasn't already happened, said it need to be held soon.

"It has to get done this week, and then you call a re-meeting two and two and two and delay and delay.  I don't see what good that does to our children," he said.

Council member Shea Flinn tried to keep things in perspective.

"We're not going to lose anything," he said. "The sky is not falling and we just have some questions, and we just have to get with them and have a meeting of the minds."

Council members stressed the deadline is not until October 1st.  Cash said representatives from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation arrive in Memphis tomorrow to consider donating a grant.

He worries the funding battle could hamper talks.

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