(WMC-TV) Just days after the Tennessee General Assembly voted to allow the Shelby County suburbs to create separate school districts, the Memphis and Shelby County Schools Transition Planning Commission approved its first set of priorities for the merged school system.
"Our thought is if we create something that is wonderful and great and world class like we intend to do, then there won't be enthusiasm to break off," said Transition Planning Commissioner Daniel Kiel.
Kiel said his peers went into the process of designing the merged system knowing the county's six suburbs had plans to break away.
But it might not be as easy as they think, including the upcoming battle over use of existing school buildings for those future special schools.
"In the event that it is more difficult than people anticipate, we will have a structure in place to educate all children in Shelby County," stated Kiel.
According to Kiel, the TPC's first set of priorities emerged from an analysis of strengths and weaknesses from the current city and county school districts.
"From the curriculum they use in pre-kindergarten, to how they determine what schools get what AP classes to special education, to what do you do with a student that has a behavioral problem," said Kiel.
The priorities range from "Effective Instructional Leaders" to getting "Every Child Ready for School" to the great task of "Engaging Parents."
"One of the specific recommendations is every school will have a parent organization and they will have a voice, be visible in the school, but also take part in a district-wide parent assembly," Kiel said.
The full Transition Planning Commission plan is due in June.