Merging school districts raises concerns over rules - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Merging school districts raises concerns over residency rules

(WMC-TV) - All Shelby County school teachers are required to live in the county. But Memphis City Schools' teachers are not. So when the two school systems merge next fall, should residency requirements apply to MCS teachers who live outside of the county?

The Shelby County Commission today addressed that question Wednesday and reached a rare compromise.

When the two school systems merge, there will be two sets of rules that will need to be merged as well. One of the issues coming to light is that of residency requirements. Should residency requirements apply to current MCS teachers or should they be grand fathered in?

"The very employees that work for us, that work for us on a daily basis ... 8,000 of them you're kicking in the teeth," said Terry Roland.

"We're going to penalize some of those that could be level four teachers, which we need good teachers in this district to make our system a world class system," said Melvin Burgess.

As it stands now, every Shelby County employee, including teachers and administrators, have to live within the county. MCS teachers and administrators have no residency requirement and about 1,400 live outside the county.

Both sides on the Shelby County Commission drew the lines in the sand.

"I'm not a fan of the residency requirement. I would like to see it go away but it's there and I don't think it's fair that we give an exception to that," said Steve Basar.

"I don't think from a practical standpoint or political that it's a good idea to change employment rules after somebody's employed," said Mike Ritz, who thinks the MCS teachers should be grand fathered in.

"We don't really have a shortage of good teachers here in Shelby County, so to me, those teachers should have an opportunity to have those jobs," said Chris Thomas.

In the end, a compromised was recommended for the full commission.

If you are a teacher or administrator and live outside of Shelby County, you have a five year grace period to move and comply with residency.

"Enabling people to change residency is a fair and equitable compromise," said Walter Bailey, who voted in favor of it.

The compromise needs three readings in order to pass in front of the full commission. The first reading is set for Monday.

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