Suburban parents fight against municipal schools lawsuit block - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Suburban parents fight against municipal schools lawsuit block

(WMC-TV) - Parents in the Shelby County suburbs are fighting back after hearing reports that the school merger may lead to drastic cuts.

Parents are demanding the Shelby County Commission stop their lawsuit blocking the six suburban municipalities from forming their own school districts.

They say the combined school system will shrink resources to the point that it puts overall school standards in jeopardy.

"Instead of going to world-class, we've now gone to second-rate," said Carr Kelsey, Citizens of Collierville.

Parents from citizen groups in Bartlett, Collierville, and Germantown rallied against the Memphis and Shelby County Schools merger Monday.

"Consolidation will result in school-level cuts. Nobody wants that," said Ken Hoover, My Germantown Schools.

The groups have one demand for the Shelby County Commissioners:

"Drop the lawsuit and let us move forward as municipal schools," said Kelsey.

Parents say the Shelby County Board of Education's preliminary budget is disconcerting with 377 job cuts in the suburbs' 51 schools.

"Of those positions, 178 are teaching positions, which is exactly what was feared by the suburbs," said Mike Burns, Better Bartlett Schools.

"We picked a home in Collierville because of the school system," said parent Laura Edgerton.

Laura Edgerton says the cuts will directly affect her child.

"Nurses, assistant principals, the teaching assistants, cafeteria monitors, all those people play a very important role in the daily activities in what people are able to do in the classroom," said Edgerton.

The parents said they will work with Nashville lawmakers if their demand to county leaders falls on deaf ears.

Shelby County Commissioner Sydney Chism says he is not buying into a demand by suburban parents to drop the lawsuit blocking the formation of suburban municipal schools.

Chism pointed out that Shelby County Schools launched the first lawsuit in this court battle. He says municipal schools would create a separate and unequal education system, which violate the constitution.

He also says education will cost taxpayers either way.

"Because, number one, the tax formula they've got, the money follows the child," said Chism. "The money that's available for them to start their own school system with the building costs, maintenance and everything that goes with it would cost just as much or more than they would have to pay for a unified system."

With suburban parents resigned to the fact they will merge with city schools for at least one year before proposed state laws possibly kick in, Chism says the suburbs need to give the merged school system a chance to succeed.

The Shelby County Board of Education will hold a meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Learning Academy on Union Avenue. At the meeting they will present the budget to the public in a series of public hearings.

The Commission voted against considering the option by voting against even putting the item on Monday's agenda. They will, however, consider spending $300,000 to continue the municipal schools fight.

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