City of Bartlett hopes to create independent school district - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

City of Bartlett hopes to create independent school district

(WMC-TV) - The city of Bartlett wants to create an independent school district now that a judge has approved the Memphis City Schools' charter surrender.

Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald said Tuesday that if Bartlett creates a special school district, the doors could open as early as the 2013-2014 school year.

"People have said they don't want to do a unified system, they are willing to pay some additional tax," said McDonald.

McDonald said just to run the schools would mean a 25 cent tax hike for Bartlett residents.  He said he does not know how much it would cost to get the buildings.  That would likely be up to the new school board.

"Best case scenario, they'll treat us like Memphis," said McDonald.  "Shelby County Schools has given Memphis schools in the past.  We would not understand why they wouldn't be able to do the same if we had a municipal school system."

Other options include leasing the buildings, take up the debt service on them, or another option.

"We could have to build our very own and leave these buildings vacant," said McDonald.

State legislators reopened the door for special school districts when they passed the Norris-Todd Bill in February.  The bill outlines a transition plan for a school merger, and the judge's ruling seems to give at least part of the bill an OK.

McDonald conceded a Bartlett school district would likely be challenged in court.

"Anyone can challenge anything," he said.

McDonald balked at the suggestion that creating an independent school district has anything to do with race.

"If we create the best school system in the area, people of all races will continue to come here for those schools," he said.

Germantown held a town hall meeting in February to discuss creating a school district.  Collierville's mayor has also expressed interest in creating its own school district.

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