Parents sound off on MCS, city council funding debate

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The tug-of-war between the Memphis City Council and Memphis City Schools took a new twist Saturday.

Parents have been keeping a close eye on the two-year school funding battle between Memphis City Schools and the Memphis City Council.

"We can find money to spend on wars, we can find money to spend on our prisons," said parent Tonya Bowley.  "We need to find money and continue to spend it in the right places for our children."

In 2008, the council cut $57 million from the city's annual obligation to MCS.  The schools sued and two courts ruled the city owed the district the money.  The State Supreme Court then refused to hear the city's appeal.

"If they could put the differences aside and think about the children, the children's education, I think it would be better for the children," said parent Natasha Mullins.

"The whole funding issue is broken, in my opinion," said Bowley.

A new motion filed in Chancery Court last Wednesday accused the school system of backdoor dealing.  The council said MCS actually owes the city money.

The motion said that during the court battle, the school system withheld the fact that it received $400 million from the state.  It also said the school system failed to pay the city $57.5 million in overdue loan of bond proceeds from 1996.

Parents said it was not about taking sides, but about making sure the school system is getting maximum results for every dollar spent.

"I think they need to utilize the money they are receiving to educate the children," said LeMar Walker.  "More money is not going to ensure the children are educated."

"I think we're spending a lot of money and not really looking deeply enough," said Bowley.  "Are these resources that are actually going to deliver results for our children?"

As the court battle begins again, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton considered cuts across the board to meet the $57 million funding debt.

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