County commissioners discuss school funding - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

County commissioners discuss school funding

Talks got touchy Wednesday when officials with Memphis City and Shelby County Schools pleaded for school funding from the county.

Shelby County Commissioners are considering striking school construction from the budget.  At a meeting Wednesday, school leaders pleaded with commissioners to keep the money coming through the county's current budget crisis.

Memphis City Schools wants $50 million to continue school renovation. Officials showed commissioners photos of leaks, asbestos and fire safety concerns.
"We're about a year and a half into a three-year plan," Memphis City Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Ward said. "So what we're trying to do is continue,"

The meeting got uncomfortable during discussion of the Average Daily Attendance formula.  Some commissioners want to change the formula, which gives city schools three dollars for every one county dollar.

Commissioner Sydney Chism pointed out the formula was designed when the wealthy lived in the city, and the poor lived in the county- something that is now reversed.

When Commissioner David Lillard told Chism he recalled when blacks and whites attended separate schools, Chism had a few words.

"It's just that poor people live in the city, and more affluent people live in the county.  It had nothing to do with race," Chism said.

Meanwhile, officials with Shelby County Schools have asked for more than $171 million over the next five years to manage enrollment growth.
"We have a number of students in portable classrooms and number one, they're not that safe," Shelby County Schools Superintendent Bobby Webb said.

Commissioner Deidre Malone unexpectedly called on Superintendent Webb to ask him why the district was giving it's deputy superintendent a raise that is higher than a cost of living increase.

"We certainly don't need to be in a position where we're losing our best principles and administrators," Webb responded, adding that the county school system is losing administrators because it pays less than other systems.

The county commission will vote on the school funding issue at Monday's regularly scheduled meeting.

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