Bill that would force school merger delay passes committee - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Bill that would force school consolidation delay passes House committee

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By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

NASHVILLE, TN (WMC-TV) - A bill that would force Memphis City School leaders to wait at least three years before consolidating passed a another big hurdle Thursday.

Republican Rep. Curry Todd of Collierville introduced the house version of the bill passed by a senate education committee Wednesday.   
"Because this is not about the political system up here, it's about the kids in both systems," Todd said.
The bill would allow the state to set specific guidelines on merging school systems.
"This bill actually gives us a timetable and a plan whereby something can be studied and looked out to make sure the teachers and others aren't disenfranchised," Todd said.
If Memphis voters approve a city schools charter surrender on March 8th, transferring city schools over to the county wouldn't happen until August of the 2013 school year.

The law would require the formation of a unification educational commission, a commission made up of 21 members including the governor and 2 legislators, the county mayor and school superintendent, and 10 competent citizens.  

City school board member Martavius Jones said he is concerned about the makeup of the commission.
"Not a single one would have been voted on by the citizens of Memphis and Shelby County," he said. "They would have been appointees."
Representative Lois DeBerry is concerned about diversity on the planning commission.  
"What if this planning commission does not reflect the demographic of the population of Memphis?" she asked.
Also of chief concern, the bill would lift the ban on creating special school districts.

House speaker Jimmy Naifeh questioned the motives of the bills sponsors in the house and Senate.

"It's as much a civil right as anything else and I'm going to e on the right side of the civil rights issue," he said.

The full education committee passed the bill, which now goes to a House vote.

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