TN governor urges schools to shift focus back to the classroom

(WMC-TV) - Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said the school merger fight is a distraction and that it's time to get back to the business of educating the children.

"There's no way this hasn't been a distraction," said Haslam. 

After a meeting with Memphis teachers Wednesday morning, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam answered questions about this week's federal ruling that put the brakes on suburban Shelby County municipal schools.

"To people running the schools, to teachers, to students. I just can't believe that hasn't impacted student performance in some way," said Haslam. 

The governor did not say if he agreed with the ruling, but he did say it's time to shift attention from the courtroom to the classroom.

"I think it was a fairly clear decision," said Haslam. 

"Let's leave the courtroom behind and let's go sit down and have the conversations we need to - to prepare," he continued. 

Prepare for the merger next August, that is.

As the governor urges everyone involved to return the focus to educating students, rumblings of an appeal and establishing new legislation to enable suburban school districts are echoing throughout Shelby County.

Haslam doesn't have any defined anticipations about the action in the state capitol when the General Assembly resumes in January.

"I think anybody who says, 'Here's what will happen,' is guessing because I think, first of all, you have a fairly new General Assembly that's changed and second, I haven't heard of any specific plans," he said. 

In regards to the Memphis/Shelby County school merger battle, Haslam said the inference for everyone is to now get to work.

The 108th General Assembly will convene on Jan. 8, 2013.

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