Commissioners receptive to prospect of paying for city schools - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Commissioners receptive to prospect of paying for city schools

If the Memphis City Council cuts school funding to prevent a city tax hike, Shelby County would take over Memphis City Schools by law.

"I think we can manage that budget very well," Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn said at a meeting Wednesday.
Flinn said they would have to take a bite out of the school system's budget.

"There's a lot of fat in the budget," he said. "They know it. We know it.  It's time to cut the fat."
Commissioners agreed, however, that the district's children would be their first obligation.

"What we don't have is the obligation to provide funding for top executives to make mass amounts of money," Commissioner Sidney Chism said.

Talks crumbled last week when only one member of the Memphis City School Board showed up at a Memphis City Council meeting to discuss the school system's budget.  Council members felt board members weren't showing enough interest.

The school board president later said there was a misunderstanding about the date, but up until now, the sides have not come together for a meeting.

"If either one of them has the position they've been snubbed, then they need to get over it and make sure we do what's right for these kids," Chism said.

If the county does take over city schools, commissioners said they would do what it takes to keep an increase in county taxes to a minimum.

"I look forward to that financial burden because it would decrease city property taxes," Flinn said. "It would increase county property taxes some, but I think we can make the appropriate cuts to where we don't really have that much of a tax increase."

Some commissioners said they were under the impression the plan to cut school funding would not see the light of day.

The Memphis City School Board and Memphis City Council have a budget hearing scheduled for mid-May.

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