Commissioners finalize vote on 25 member school board - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Commissioners finalize vote on 25 member school board

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Shelby County Commission held a spirited debate Monday about creating a board that would govern a unified school district.

Commissioners passed an item to add 18 members to the unified school board if the merger passes next Tuesday, and also voted to establish a redistricting plan.

As the referendum to transfer Memphis City Schools to Shelby County draws near, tensions are rising.  Monday, Shelby County Commissioner Wyatt Bunker said some of his fellow commissioners were behaving like elementary school students during a vote to increase the seven-member county school board to a 25-member Memphis and Shelby County school board.

"When I was in elementary school, we would take these straws and see if spit wads would stick. We're throwing a bunch of crud on the wall to see if it sticks," Bunker said.

Commissioner Mike Ritz argued Monday's vote was necessary to adhere to the one man, one vote law.

"It takes 18 members to balance the seven current members of the Shelby County School Board," he said.

Commissioner Terry Roland then demanded transparency and a tally of the cost to hire counsel to consult on the school merger.

"I want a copy of how much we spent, how much we've done, and I would really like a summary of everything we've decided if we really want the people of Shelby County to know what's going on," he said.

Commissioner Walter Bailey pointed out that Roland walked out of last week's meeting in a huff.

"You can't stomp out the meeting and expect the information to come out to you," Bailey said. "Let's just forge ahead."

Commissioner Steve Mulroy also fired back at Roland.

"I would like to make a formal request to the Shelby County Schools and ask for all the info they have paid to Chuck Cagle and all of his associates, whom they hired well before we hired Baker, Donelson," he said.
"The city threw up their hands on 105,000 students and now they want power over both school systems?" Bunker asked.

Despite the protests, the item passed nine to three, down territorial lines - the three "no" votes were all county residents.

The commission also voted nine to three to establish a countywide school board redistricting plan. Once again, Commissioners Wyatt Bunker, Terry Roland, and Chris Thomas were the only no votes.

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