Mayors call for more discussion on school charter - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mayors call for more discussion on school charter

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The mayors of Memphis and Shelby County are calling for more discussion about efforts to dissolve the Memphis City Schools' charter and force consolidation of the county and city school systems.

Neither Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell nor Memphis Mayor A C Wharton support Shelby County Schools board chairman David Pickler's push to get the state legislature to grant special school district status to the suburban system, The Commercial Appeal reports.

But the two mayors also aren't rushing to retaliate by supporting a move to dissolve Memphis City Schools and force consolidation.
"We need to kind of cool our jets on this and get some reasonable discussion going," Luttrell said this week after the Memphis City Schools board set a December vote on surrendering the charter.

If the school board approves the resolution, voters would decide in March whether to dissolve the city school system and turn over all public education to Shelby County's system.

Pickler's push to get special school district status for Shelby County has the support of Republican suburban legislators.

Luttrell has not endorsed the special district maneuver, saying he needs more information. Luttrell added that Pickler has never suggested to him that county schools want to be granted taxing authority.

On school funding, Luttrell indicated during his campaign for mayor this summer that he preferred a single-source process that would relieve Memphis taxpayers of double-taxation for paying for education in city and county taxes.

Luttrell hedged on that earlier this week, saying he needs a clearer picture of what single-source school funding for the two systems would look like.

Wharton is calling for more discussion while warning that the backdoor consolidation could create other issues that would be harmful to the city and its children. He stresses that a compromise should involve both sides.

"You can't have a one-sided cease-fire," Wharton said. "If it's going to be a stand-down, it needs to be a mutual stand-down."

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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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