Pickler questions commissioners' power to add board members - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Pickler questions commissioners' power to add school board members

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By Jamel Major - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - As the resolution to create an interim unified Memphis and Shelby School Board moves through the Shelby County Commission, Shelby County School Board President David Pickler is worried.

Early voting is now underway for a referendum that will decide whether Memphis City Schools should disband and join Shelby County Schools, meaning the city and county could be closer to a unified board. 

But Thursday, Pickler said there are still a number of political, legislative, and legal issues that have to be addressed.

"We differ dramatically with the county commission," he said.

If the merger passes, the County Commission will begin redistricting schools, which has Pickler concerned.  

"We do not believe the County Commission, that while they have the right to redraw the lines, they do not have the right to add on the number of board members," he said.

The unified school board would keep the current seven county school board members and add roughly 20 new commissioners to represent Memphis.  Current city school board members are eligible to apply, but are not guaranteed a seat on the new board.

"State law says a board of education shall have no less than three board members and no more than 11 board members, so this concept of creating a board with 25 or 27 board members seem to fall clearly against Tennessee law," Pickler said.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has already signed a law to delay the actual transition of the school merger for nearly three years while a transition plan is developed.

"I believe Governor Haslam did the right thing," Pickler said. "I believe the Norris and Todd legislation brings some sanity to this process."

Meanwhile, Memphis City Council has voted to dissolve the school system, which will effect after Memphis voters go to the polls on March 8th.

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