Pickler lays out challenges for municipal school districts - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Pickler lays out challenges for municipal school districts

Wednesday was the Shelby County School Board's first meeting since federal judge Samuel Mays issued his decision on the school merger issue. Wednesday was the Shelby County School Board's first meeting since federal judge Samuel Mays issued his decision on the school merger issue.

(WMC-TV) - Shelby County School Board Chairman David Pickler said Wednesday the challenge for county municipalities to create their own special school districts will begun with a learning curve.

"They have not been in the business of education," Pickler said. "They are in the business of running municipalities."

And it would cost a pretty penny. Germantown, for instance, would quadruple its bond indebtedness and property taxes would go up, according to Pickler.

"Building schools is a substantial financial feat," he said.

Pickler said it would cost $15 million to build an elementary school, $20 million to build a middle school, and $20 million to build a high school. Rumors that the current county school board is considering deeding buildings to the municipalities are unfounded, he said.

"The only way a school could be transferred is if a building was a surplus," he said. "Last time I looked, the buildings are filled with happy, smiling children."

Pickler pointed out that the municipalities would have to build the special school districts from the ground up, unlike previous attempts to convert county schools into a special school district.

"It will involve a significant investment of time, human capital and financial capital," he said. "But right now, it is not an option."

That's because state law says no special school district can be created until 2013.  Pickler said the municipalities will need the time.

Wednesday was the Shelby County School Board's first meeting since federal judge Samuel Mays issued his decision on the school merger issue.

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