Shelby County mayor braces for possible school merger - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Shelby County mayor braces for possible school merger

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - After the historic vote to transfer Memphis City Schools to the county, lawmakers in every branch of government are bracing for what's next.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell sat front and center during Monday night's marathon Memphis City Schools Board meeting that ended with a vote to put the transfer of city schools to the county on the next ballot.

"My initial reaction was, well how do we move to the next step," Luttrell said Wednesday.

For the mayor, students come first, but the vote effects everyone in the county.

"Funding, taxation, how it's going to impact state funding, how this is going to impact local funding and how our tax base is structured," he said.

Luttrell questions for the state about how they would structure single-source school funding and your tax rate.

"If you talk about single-source funding, are we talking about the prevailing Memphis rate, or funding at the prevailing Shelby County rate, which is different?" he asked.

School districts would be rezoned. A new administration would be hired, and a new school board elected.

The transition process could take two to four years.

"I look at this as a sequence of events," he said. "The first sequence is to resolve that we're going to make this as an educational process."

Though the mayor originally asked the school board to delay the vote, he says his responsibility now is to adjust.

"I'm not going to pass judgement," he said. "I'm going to say the decision was made."

Luttrell says there's a template for these matters.

"If the referendum passes and the charter is rendered, there is a statutory process that you can follow for the transition," he said.

Luttrell said he would also seek guidance from other cities that underwent school mergers like Chattanooga and Knoxville.

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