Private schools paying close attention to MCS/SCS merger - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Private schools paying close attention to MCS/SCS merger

(WMC-TV) - Studies show that 'merger flight' has followed every school consolidation in the state of Tennessee. But is that trend happening locally?

During Tuesday's meeting of the Shelby County Commission to discuss the Memphis City Schools/Shelby County School merger, one commissioner said "merger flight" will put the county's tax base in jeopardy.

Terry Roland said families are fleeing to Tipton County because Memphis City Schools is merging with Shelby County Schools.

"As of December the 20th, when we started talking about this last year, to January the 26th, 263 students left," Roland said.

Impact studies on school mergers in Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Nashville showed spikes in private school enrollment.

Memphis Association of Independent Schools president William Taylor said Tuesday that his organization is paying close attention to the school merger.

"As educators, we're very interested in making sure that the foundation of education for the young people in this community is as strong as possible," Taylor said.

But contrary to popular belief, Taylor said, he has not seen a surge in admissions since merger talks began. Instead, the more apparent trend is the economic recovery.

"Admissions activity in general over the last four or five years has slowly rebounded," he said.

Taylor said area private schools cannot traditionally accommodate enrollment surges. They're often enrolled to capacity, he said, and they're not looking to capitalize on the merger.

"Independent schools are not really looking for a surge. Independent schools are looking to attract families and students who are interested in being engaged in their learning communities," he said.

According to Taylor, it's in everyone's best interest for public schools to be as strong as possible.

Tuesday, he did not know if local private schools are bracing for a surge, saying it would be up to each individual school.

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