TPC approves plan to merge school districts, jobs cuts likely

(WMC-TV) - The Transition Planning Commission approved the full draft of their plan to govern the merger of Memphis and Shelby County Schools.

Nine months, 150 meetings, and more than 400 hours of work were invested on what the planning commission calls a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a world class education system.

But the plan will still be subjected to scrutiny and could result in the loss of jobs.

Transition Planning Commission Member Jim Boyd applauded his fellow TPC members for passing a plan to merge Memphis and Shelby County schools. It is a that creates opportunities for the community's youngest students.

"We are proposing to add between two [thousand] and 3,000 seats for preschool students," said Vice Chair Dr. Fred Johnson.

"We were able to identify a savings and efficiencies in excess of $90 million," said TPC Chairman Barbara Prescott.

Saving money means cutting costs.

Among their recommendations, they want to close 21 underutilized schools in northwest and southwest Memphis.

"Those areas had schools with just over 50 percent utilization," said Prescott.

A current overlap in services makes layoffs inevitable. Teacher layoffs are expected to be minimal, but 20 percent of the staff at the district's central office could lose their jobs.

The plan projects a $160 million budget for the 2014 school year.

"The projected 2014 total budget is less than the current combined budgets of the two districts," said Prescott.

The TPC's recommendations are not set in stone. They could make changes after a series of public meetings.

It is subject to approval by the Shelby County School Board of Education and the state.

Municipalities will vote in August whether to establish their own school districts.

Commissioners believe their plan will work no matter how many students are educated in Shelby County.

To see a list of public meetings that you can attend to learn more, click here.

Visit the Transition Planning Committee's website for more information about the merger.