Memphis school leaders respond to municipal schools election res - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis school leaders respond to municipal schools election results

(WMC-TV) - Come 2014, all six Shelby County suburbs will launch their own school systems. The original Memphis school board commissioners who surrendered the charter, which ultimately triggered Tuesday night's election, are now responding to the results.

After the Memphis and Shelby County Schools merger became imminent, the Tennessee Legislature lifted the ban on municipal schools.

Tuesday night, suburban voters voted. The results prove that they want separate schools. Are those results what city school leaders originally expected?

"It's hard to imagine what I thought, but I can tell you this: In 2004, when I was first elected to the school board, you could have never told me we'd be where we are today. That I did know. That I did know," said Shelby County School Board Commissioner Tomeka Hart.

Shelby County School Board Commissioner Tomeka Hart says the school system is in uncharted waters, but the outcome of Tuesday's election was no surprise.

"I completely expected this to happen," she said.

Hart says the new reconfiguration of schools more evenly distributes the education tax burden.

"It's only fair. If those cities want their own school systems, they need to pay for it," she continued. "Memphis, for some 200 years, has been paying for two systems and we have really supplemented their need to have a separate system."

Suburbanites spoke at the polls Tuesday. They are willing to pay higher taxes to control their own schools.

"In the six municipalities, I hope they're still thinking, 'We are not doing this because we want to be separate. We're doing this because we want to be innovative and use resources so we can give the best we can to those children'," said Hart.

Hart has this hope for all the school systems.

"Whether it's one or 30, we really do need to still get on because both systems are not doing what we need to do for the children and we need to get on that business," she added.

Tuesday night's results will be certified by the end of the month. The suburbs will elect school board commissioners in November.

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