Cost to fund merged school districts will be billions

(WMC-TV) - For the first time, Action News 5 is getting a true look at the cost of funding the merged Memphis and Shelby County School system.

The Transition Planning Commission has been crunching numbers for months. We now know what it will likely cost to fund the merged school. That number? $1.4 billion.

Transition Planning Commissioner Dr. Barbara Prescott said the goal is to keep the cost of Memphis and Shelby County School consolidation low without lowering education levels for the children.

"We are doing our very best to find efficiencies that will offset what we're losing from the city of Memphis and will also provide the investments that we need to provide. That's going to take a super human effort," said Barbara Prescott, Ph.D., Transition Planning Commission.

Currently, the county spends $345 million on schools and the city pays $68 million.

The TPC Finance Committee determined that when the schools merge, the county alone will pay $361 million.

"What we know is we will not have the $68 million that has been the maintenance of effort from the City of Memphis," said Prescott.

The TPC is looking for efficiencies that will fill that gap, which includes the closure of low enrollment schools, cuts to busing, school maintenance, and nutrition.

They're also eyeing the central office.

The current overall cost to fund Memphis City Schools is $900 million. The cost for county schools is $360 million. That comes to a total of $1.26 billion.

The TPC projects the cost to fund the merged school system will be $1.4 billion. That is a difference of $14 million.

The TPC will finalize their recommendations in mid-June.

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