Treasurer: School leaders should allow charter schools - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Treasurer: School leaders should allow charter schools

The Tennessee State Treasurer ruled today that 17 charter schools can open in the fall and that's good news for former Memphis mayor and school superintendent Dr. Willie Herenton. The Tennessee State Treasurer ruled today that 17 charter schools can open in the fall and that's good news for former Memphis mayor and school superintendent Dr. Willie Herenton.

(WMC-TV) – The Tennessee State Treasurer ruled today that 17 charter schools can open in the fall and that's good news for former Memphis mayor and school superintendent Dr. Willie Herenton.

The state treasurer says charter school applicants can move forward with plans to open 17 schools in Memphis this fall.

"I'm very pleased with that ruling and I'm sure all the applicants that were denied are pleased," said Herenton.

Herenton applied for 7 of the 17 charter schools originally denied by the Memphis and Shelby County Unified School Board.

"All I want to do is to help improve the academic achievement level of the poorest of the children in this community and it appears we are going to be able to have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these children," he said. "That's all we want to do."

Last November, the school board denied the applications saying the charter schools would cause the district to lose $97 million.

"It was always my contention that the charter school application would help improve education in Memphis, not take away from education," Herenton said.

State Treasurer David Lillard, who is familiar with local schools because he once served as a Shelby County Commissioner, conducted a review.

He said the Comptroller's Office found charter schools could cause a $13 million impact on the local school system, not a $97 million impact.

And he felt the district could absorb that loss of money.

Applicants will have to work fast if they want to start in the fall.

"Now we have to make some decisions if we can move forward with the next school year," said Herenton.

But Herenton said he has personal reasons for succeeding.

"The children who are really falling through the cracks, they are undergoing the same kinds of impoverished conditions I grew up in," he said. "I came out of poverty. I came out of a broken home. It was education that allowed me to make a difference."

The Unified School Board has five days to appeal the State Treasurer's decision.

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