Commissioners vote on $15 million request for school merger

Commissioners vote on $15 million request for school merger

(WMC-TV) - Tempers flared Wednesday over a request to fast track $15 million for a Memphis and Shelby County Schools merger expenditure.

Some county commissioners argue that it is too much money, too soon, and taxpayers would have to foot the bill.

Commissioners appeared to stage a silent protest and at least one commissioner clashed with the administration calling the request "ridiculous."

"This is why Memphis is broke and they're trying to take us down with them," said Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland.

Roland balked at a request by county administrators to approve a $15 million budget amendment for the future merged school system.

"Wanting to spend $15 million on a school system that doesn't exist and you don't even know how big that school system is going to be?" he said.

The money would be used for payroll software for the combined 18,000 school employees.

Administrators say the commission would need to amend the budget ASAP so payroll can work smoothly when the schools merge in August 2013.

Commissioner Roland is against the school merger.

He accused the administration of trying to appropriate the money now so the county will not have to share it with suburban schools, if suburban schools eventually form their own municipalities.

Commissioner Mike Ritz, who supports the merger, said the county would have to spread the money to all students even if the six suburbs form their own school districts in the August 2 election.

All of the commissioners against the merger left the room, except Roland.

Some believe it was a silent protest because the commissioners who are against the merger are outnumbered on the Commission anyway.

The commissioners did end up voting in favor of the $15 million.

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