Wharton hopeful city will strike deal with MCS - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Wharton hopeful city will strike deal with MCS

(WMC-TV) - The Memphis City Schools board says students are going back to class on August 8, but it won't be a done deal until the city of Memphis gets some cold hard cash.

Wednesday, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton was hopeful the city and MCS could hash out a plan to fund the 2011-2012 school year.

"If it's any way financially possible, we're going to do it," Wharton said. "We want the children in school."

Tuesday night, the Memphis City Schools board voted that the city must meet three demands or school will not start as planned August 8th.

- The city must appropriate funds for the schools.
- The city must pay 80 percent of what's due by October.
- The city must put the payment schedule in writing.

While Wharton is hopeful, a gray area remains.     

"We cannot pay what we do not have," he said. "But if we have it, and we can change payment schedules, we're going to do it."

Memphis City Schools says the city owes $78.3 million dollars for the 2011-2012 school year. 80 percent of that amount is roughly $62.6 million.

Wharton understands what could happen if the money demands are not met - the school year could be delayed.  Instead, the mayor said he was focusing on the assumption that the students will go to class August 8th.

"I don't get into trying to read the minds and intentions of others," he said. "I'm working on the positive. We're doing everything humanly and financially possible to get it done.

The city of Memphis has already cut millions of dollars from the budget due to the economy. It's unclear from where they'll find the money for schools.

The Memphis City Council must vote the school deal up or down next Tuesday - just six days before the start of the school year.

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