Shelby County Commission to address school merger issues - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Shelby County Commission to address school merger issues

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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Shelby County Commission will have its hands full with school merger matters Monday.

Commissioners will vote on four resolutions in the controversial March 8 referendum to transfer Memphis City Schools to the county. 

The resolutions began in committee last week, and prompted Commissioner Wyatt Bunker to storm out of the meeting twice.

Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz said he has not seen a debate of this magnitude in his four years on the board.

"This is the most intense," said Ritz.  "Every few hours it changes."

The game changed Wednesday when the governor signed a law to delay the actual transition of the school merger for 30 months, and to lift the ban on special school districts at that time.  It changed again Thursday when the Memphis City Council voted to dissolve the school system, which takes effect after Memphis voters go to the polls on that same vote March 8.

The county commission will begin the process of appointing an interim unified school board Monday.

"Frankly, I think we will do it faster now because of what happened Thursday night with the council vote," said Ritz.

If the merger passes, the county commission will begin redistricting schools.  They will then appoint 20 new members, all representing Memphis, to the interim unified school board.

The seven current Shelby County School Board members remain in place.

"That's the one-man, one-vote balance," said Ritz.  "So 20 have to come from Memphis and seven from the county."

It is unclear if the commission will appoint any sitting Memphis City School Board members to the unified school board.  Memphis school board members will lose their seats if the merger passes.

In addition to the interim unified school board appointments, the commission will begin establishing a Unified Education Planning Commission, consider hiring an independent attorney to represent them in merger matters and vote on a resolution to oppose the General Assembly's action to delay the transition.

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