Sides plot next moves in school funding debate - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Lori Brown

Sides plot next moves in school funding debate

As children in Memphis find some time to relax this summer, the debate over who's responsible for paying for their education has been intense.

In an emergency meeting Friday night, the Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to give the city one more chance to reconsider its $70 million funding cut, or else face a lawsuit.

Saturday, city council member Myron Lowery said there is no need to reconsider.

"There is no state law that says the city council, the government of the city of Memphis, is required to fund the Board of Education," Lowery said. "If that were the case, the school board could simply submit a budget to us and we'd have to rubber stamp it.  That is simply not the case.>

School board member Martavius Jones disagrees about what the law says.
"The state instructed us, if there is any cut in our funding, they will follow the letter of the law," Jones said. "The letter of the law says the state can withhold funding.

School board member Dr. Kenneth Whalum says the city council isn't to blame, but the state is.
"I don't believe it's the $70 million cut is going to hurt the kids," Whalum said. "It's the state that I believe is acting unreasonably. If we can get the state to pay attention to the reality of what's going on, we can achieve what we need to, which is a quality education for our children."

To help get everyone on the same page, Lowery requested that the school board host a meeting to bring all the different sides to the same table at the same time.

Saturday, Whalum said he thought such a meeting should be possible.

But even if it takes a judge to clear things up, Whalum said when it's time for school to start, "I'm convinced we're going to be fine."

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