Commissioners spar over state role in charter surrender battle - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Commissioners spar over state role in charter surrender battle

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Tempers flared in Shelby County Commission Wednesday over the latest developments in the fight to surrender the Memphis City Schools Charter.

The charter surrender fight is playing out in every Shelby County Commission meeting, and Wednesday was no exception, as commissioners discussed what unified school board district lines would look like, if Memphians vote to transfer city schools to the county.

Commissioners have differing views on the state's recent involvement in the battle.  Some believe legislators in Nashville are butting into the fight, while others say the state government offers the only hope.

"Please step in and do something about this, because it's a hostile takeover," Commissioner Terry Roland said.

But Commissioner Sidney Chism argued the state bill to include Shelby County residents in the March 8th Memphis vote cannot become law retroactively.

"They can try," he said. "I think it's a stall tactic."

Roland said state involvement equalizes the fight because most commissioners live in the city.

"So you've got ten that virtually back Memphis City Schools and three that back Shelby County Schools," he said. "Now how is that fair?"

Chism supports Governor Haslam's demand for the superintendents to come up with a teacher transition plan, but says his February 15th deadline is too short, unless the Governor only wants a summary.

"I think he expects them to give him a brief scenario of how they're going to get from point A to point B," Chism said.

Roland said it's too soon to even ask for a plan with so many moving parts.

"Let's wait to see if the merger happens," he said.

No decisions were made in today's meeting. Commissioners can't vote on new school district lines unless the merger is approved.

The one thing Chism and Roland agree upon is that if voters approve the merger, it will go to court.  Both think their side will win.

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