$57 million issue lingers as school merger approaches - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

$57 million issue lingers as school merger approaches

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(WMC-TV) - With less than two months until the new Shelby County Unified school district officially beginning, an old unresolved problem involving tens of millions of dollars still lingers.

Before classes begin next year and even before the two school systems merge July 1, the City of Memphis and Memphis City Schools may sit down soon to settle a $150 million debate.

"I don't think either party, either the schools or the city, could afford to pay the lump sum to the other," said councilman Jim Strickland.

About four years ago, a judge ruled the City of Memphis owes Memphis City Schools $57 million. It stems from a yearly payment the city did not make in 2008.

The City of Memphis responded by filing a claim. It said Memphis City Schools owes the City of Memphis around $100 million in bond payments issued for previous buildings and school renovations. As of early May, neither issue has been resolved.

"The schools have to agree to these talks, and hopefully they will now. So, we got to hear back from schools now to see whether they're agree to sit down and talk with us," said Strickland.

If both sides sit down at the table and an agreement can be reached, chances are payments made to resolve the issue would last for several years.

"My guess is if either party agrees they should pay the other party, there will have to be payment arraignments meaning so much per year for X number of years," said Strickland.

With both the city and the school system in desperate need of money, both sides may be willing to talk – but reaching a deal will be quite the challenge.

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