Voters will decide on possibility of municipal schools on August - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Voters will decide on possibility of municipal schools on August 2

(WMC-TV) – Six Shelby County suburbs will vote if they are willing to pay for their own school districts, in order to avoid the merger with Memphis City Schools.

But when voters go to the polls on August 2, they might not have the full financial picture.

When voters go to the polls this August, one issue could still be up in the air: The cost for school buildings. But that has not slowed the effort to form special school districts.

Suburban leaders feel confident all the other ducks are in a row.

On Wednesday, Arlington Mayor Mike Wissman signed the dotted line to put a referendum on the ballot that will allows voters to decide if they want to create their own municipal schools.

"At least the community knows they'll have the chance to vote August 2," said Arlington Mayor Mike Wissman.

It is the same story in all of the other Shelby County municipalities.

Tuesday night, the boards and councils in every Shelby County suburb approved the same referendum.

The one question mark that leaves the financial puzzle incomplete is whether the suburbs have to buy out the school buildings.

"That's the only obstacle I really see that can or cannot affect the way it's going," said Mayor Wissman.

Though private attorneys have opined school buildings can be transferred free, no official ruling has set it in stone.

Mayor Wissman points out when Memphis has annexed Shelby County schools in the past, the schools were transferred.

"When school boards are elected, if this all passes, then those types of agreements would have to move forward between school boards," he said.

Outside of the school buildings, the mayor says it will take $34.5 million per year to operate Arlington's four schools.

$20 million of that will come from the state. $14 million will come from the county.

That means property taxpayers would need to come up with $500,000.

On August 2, the voters will decide if they are willing to pay the extra 15 cents. For example, a $250,000 home would cost an extra $75 per year

If voters pass the referendums to form their own schools, the municipalities will hold school board elections in November.

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