Excess Shelby County schools could go to suburbs - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Excess Shelby County schools could go to suburbs

As a half-dozen smaller cities around Memphis explore starting their own public school systems, there's talk of forcing the city-county schools to turn over extra buildings to the cities. As a half-dozen smaller cities around Memphis explore starting their own public school systems, there's talk of forcing the city-county schools to turn over extra buildings to the cities.

(WMC-TV) - There's talk of forcing the consolidated Shelby County school district to give extra buildings to suburban cities as they explore starting their own public school systems.

It comes down to simple math. There are hundreds of thousands of students and only a finite number of school buildings.

Though he declined an interview, Tennessee state Rep. Ron Lollar confirmed that some lawmakers are considering legislative options in an attempt to secure existing school buildings for potential municipal school districts. The plans could hand over the buildings for little or no money.

While no bills have been put forth, the idea alone generates dispute.

"This is only one more opportunity for them to get something for nothing out of Memphis," said Rep. G.A. Hardaway.

Opponents argue that allowing the unified school district to keep the buildings comes down to dollars and cents.

"When we look at the money invested in those buildings, that money was majority Memphis money, historically speaking," said Martavius Jones, of the unified Shelby County school board.

Opponents also say the unified school district may need those campuses after all.

"The citizens that have been largely ignored are those people in unincorporated Shelby County," Jones said. "So what do we do for those citizens that the unified school district will still be obligated to educate?"

Should a bill be proposed, it will likely be met with a battle.

"I don't intend to sit idly by and see those resources depleted, given away," Hardaway said. "Especially to areas that could very well afford to build their own system."

Any legislation passed applies to the entire state.

Opponents say they doubt the administration and most of the statewide lawmakers will approve legislation designed specifically for Shelby County.

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