Municipal schools hearing delayed again

Municipal schools hearing delayed again

(WMC-TV) – A judge delayed the hearing on municipal schools for another two weeks.

It is the second delay this month for the federal bench trial, which will determine the constitutionality of municipal school districts in Shelby County.

The sticking point then and now is the accuracy of census maps. And with each delay, the cost to taxpayers continues to climb.

Attorneys for the city, county, state and other interested parties filed back into federal court Friday for the bench trial on municipal school districts.

"You know the court is just going to finish taking proof in the case, he probably would have finished two weeks ago," said Senator Mark Norris, Germantown.

A debate over the accuracy of census maps went on for hours before court adjourned with very little progress.

It was another bump in the road for the federal lawsuit that could potentially void an August 2 vote to form school districts in six municipalities. It is a vote that needs to be certified before the November election.

"The most important thing here is not so much how fast we do it but how correctly we do it," said Shelby County Commissioner Walter Bailey.

Attorneys for municipal districts agreed to reconstruct the census data. But the maps have to be remade, so the hearing was delayed until October 6.

Meanwhile, legal fees on the backs of tax payers continue to mount.

"We knew it would be expensive, we didn't know how expensive," said Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald.

Mayor McDonald is in it for the long haul.

A second trial to determine whether municipal schools would create segregation is scheduled for November 6.

"Everybody keeps telling us that the federal piece on whether it's discriminatory or not will be even more expensive," said McDonald.

And because of the multiple delays in phase one, phase two will likely be delayed and both rulings will likely be appealed.

"Our citizens, 80 percent or greater, they want municipal schools and it's our job as elected officials to find a way to make that happen," said McDonald.

Attorneys on both sides are done putting on proof. They agreed to limit the maps to Carroll and Gibson Counties but now they have to wait for new maps to be generated.

They will meet on October 6 and hope to wrap things up on phase one.

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