Commissioner readies push to redraw county school district lines

One Shelby County leader says there's not enough diversity on the County school board and he wants to redraw district lines to change that.

Walter Bailey says it's high time that something changed.  "It looks bad.  It's a bad perception cast off," he says.

Bailey tells Action News 5 he is working to bring a proposal to his fellow Shelby County Commissioners that would redraw County school district lines.

School board chairman David Pickler doesn't like it.  "Commissioner Bailey has made statements in the past that would certainly lead one to believe that he may have as an objective for redrawing the lines, to concentrate more african american voters in one district."

Bailey says it's about diversity.  The school board now is all white.

And his timing may be right.  In 2004, when Memphis wrapped up the Getwell West annexation, the Shelby County school district lost eight thousand residents.

The proposals would redraw all but one of the current districts.  Bailey hopes new maps will give minorities a louder voice during school board elections.  "They all fine people, don't get me wrong.  We just need some more heterogenious makeup of the board as opposed to it being so ethnically imbalanced," he says.

It's clear - even now - he will have a fight.

"To simply go through a process to achieve a racial motivation sets this community back," says Pickler.

The County Commission will hear and debate the issue on Monday.

And it's clear it will move very quickly.  Bailey says there's a chance Commissioners will even vote on this on Monday night.  It's two weeks before the qualifying deadline for those board positions and it may be a now or never situation if this is to move forward.