Memphis would still be represented in merged school system - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis would still be represented in merged school system, board member says

By Lori Brown - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - You've heard the threats of what the Shelby County School Board would do if given the reigns of Memphis City Schools.  Last week, Shelby County Schools board chairman David Pickler described potential cuts.

"We will move forward with effectiveness and efficiency, but it will come with a cost," Pickler said.

Among the costs the county school board listed last week were numerous school closings, massive lay-offs of city school personnel and a potential loss of millions in funding.

But what you may not have heard is this Shelby County School Board would not be in charge long.

"One thing to keep in mind, there isn't too much that a body can do that cannot be undone by a successor body," Memphis City Schools board member Martavius Jones said.

Jones and fellow school board member Tomeka Hart led the charge to dissolve Memphis City Schools. If the referendum passes, the law says the Shelby County Commission would be in charge of creating new district lines.

The Commission would also decide how many board members there would be.  The new school board could immediately be enlarged to nine members.

"If we talk about a nine member board, I think Memphis would have to have at least 6 of those seats," Jones said, "because Memphis makes up seventy percent of the population."

The question is, how long would it take for Memphians to get those six seats?  Under current law, those serving on the Shelby County School Board now must serve out their terms.

"That conflicts with the U.S. Constitution that talks about one person one vote," Jones said.

Jones believes that even though current law doesn't guarantee how Memphians would be represented, or when, it would without a doubt happen.

"The U.S. Constitution says we have to have that," he said.

In Jones' opinion, the new board would likely form in less than two years. He believes, if even if there are no legal challenges, the new board would be in control in no more than three years because all of the current board members are up for re-election by then.

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