School planning commission won't let buildings go for free - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

School planning commission won't let buildings go for free

(WMC-TV) - The Shelby County Election Commission canceled referenda for municipal school districts after the state attorney general issued his opinion and now the Transition Planning Commission is set to vote on a proposal asking for compensation from municipalities for school buildings.

Shelby County suburbs got a setback this week when the Tennessee Attorney General wrote an opinion saying municipalities could not begin forming a school district until after Memphis and Shelby County schools merge in August 2013.

"I'm disappointed that we won't be able to hold the referendum on May the 10," said Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner. "We're not stopping. We are determined that we're going to move forward, that we're going to have a municipal school district."

Tennessee state law allows for municipal school districts, but the attorney general says those school districts must be formed after the Shelby County, Memphis merger.

As a result, Tennessee state Sen. Mark Norris, of Collierville, has a new proposal that would move up the date to form city school districts before the merger.

"There is support up there right now on that," said Joyner. "I certainly hope it passes."

But Martavius Jones, who sits on the Transition Planning Commission, says moving up the date to form municipal school systems goes against the initial ruling on the school merger.

"I just think it goes against what Judge Mays rules were," he said.

Jones says state lawmakers should let local leaders handle the issues involved, including getting fair value for the transfer of county school buildings to municipalities.

"We won't do anything without considering what the implications are from a debt standpoint to all of the taxpayers of Shelby County," he said.

State lawmakers are expected to bring up the proposal that would move up forming a municipal school district before the merger next week.

Also next week, the Transition Planning Commission is set to bring up the issue of fair value for the transfer of county school building.

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