Memphis, Shelby Co. schools propose job cuts

(WMC-TV) - Budget woes could lead to job cuts for Memphis and Shelby County schools.

School leaders presented their budgets today, and one district superintendent was a no show.

The Memphis superintendent's handlers said he couldn't be there to present his budget due to "family business".

Meanwhile, the county superintendent said if you think this year's budget is rough, wait until next year when the schools merge.

With Memphis City Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash nowhere in sight, his CFO was left to answer questions about Cash's proposed budget cutting 76 jobs and dipping into reserves by $30 million.

"We had a budget gap. (We did it) just to maintain the same level of service because all of our revenues are flat," said Memphis City Schools CFO Pam Ansty.

County Superintendent John Aitken had little to say about Cash's absence.

Aitken is proposing a $6 million dip into reserves, reductions in staff, and program cuts. He said his greatest challenge is uncertainty.

"There's uncertainty with teachers, there's uncertainty with principals, specialist positions, clerical positions in the central office. Nobody knows right now what's going to happen to them," he said.

For the first time, Aitken voiced the merger's toll on jobs. He thinks job loss will be inevitable.

"I think you're going to have duplication of positions that are going to have to be eliminated in a lot of cases."

Aitken said that includes the central office, all employees in the schools, and bus drivers.

Taxpayers, he didn't leave you out.

Aitken also said for the first time that he expects the cost to run schools to increase after consolidation.

"If you look at research and you look at past mergers, yes. They have usually cost more at the front end until things get leveled out," Aitken said.

Commissioners have until June 30 to approve the budgets.

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