Nashville consolidation expert offers insight into school merger - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Nashville consolidation expert offers insight into school mergers

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - If there's one person who knows what it's like to consolidate school districts, it's attorney Charles Cagle.  Thursday, Cagle advised the Shelby County School board to prepare to absorb the Memphis City School District.

"I think we ought to prepare for that contingency," Cagle said Thursday. "I think we ought to prepare for that."

Cagle, who is from Nashville, has helped merge city with county schools in four different Tennessee School districts.

"There are all kinds of issues from fiscal to personnel to real property issues that have to be discussed," he said.

Those issues in Memphis and Shelby County are more complicated than any other case Cagle has tackled.

"Memphis is big. That's a big factor in every other case with which we've dealt," he said. "We're dealing with a school district that's at least twice the size, or three times the size, as the district that's going out of business. This is the complete opposite."

It means taking one of the largest school systems in America and merging it into the 6th or 7th largest school district in Tennessee. And Memphis and Shelby County seems to be less prepared for a merger than other districts.

"Knox County actually had a consolidation committee that they formed," he said.

Chattanooga formed a committee before the issue went to a vote. Cagle said controversy in every case is to be expected, but can be overcome.

"In every one in which I've been involved it's always worked out well," he said. "There have always been surprises somewhere along the way, but we managed to get by those, too."

But Cagle warned Shelby County School Board members that there is no evidence out there that turning two districts into one saves money.

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