Memphis City Council members question new MCS hire

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Some Memphis City Council members are speaking out about a new school district hire with a salary of over $176,000.

Memphis City Councilwoman Janis Fullilove sent an e-mail regarding the hire of Deputy Superintendent of Business Operations Hitesh Haria.

"I was taken aback after learning that Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash ... has created a new position at the cost of $176,800 a year," Fullilove said in the e-mail.

School Board Commissioner Kenneth Whalum also responded.

"I don't understand it," Whalum said.

Whalum said it was not the salary that was the problem, but the timing of the hire.  The city and the school system are in a court battle over who should fund schools.

"At a time when we're supposed to be pursuing fiscally austere measure in management, we're adding people," Whalum said.  "We're adding salaries."

School administrators said Haria's position was already in the budget and will not add costs to taxpayers.

Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash said in a statement, "when we can see efficiencies and have those divisions ... operating at peak performance levels, then three things occur: we generate revenue, save dollars and avoid unnecessary costs. That will save the taxpayer money but also allow us to transfer dollars into academics."

Councilman Myron Lowery said the hire sends a mixed message.

"They've been saying for the last two years they don't have sufficient money for their budget," Lowery said.  "Since we're in court, the City Council and the Board of Education, they need to save every dollar that they can and apparently they're not doing that."

District officials said this position is needed and that it calls for a highly-trained person.  Memphis Tomorrow recruited the current chief operations officer of the Saint Paul, Minnesota Public Schools.

Haria starts in Memphis on April 5.

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