Ruling in school funding battle won't come for weeks - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Lori Brown

Ruling in school funding battle won't come for weeks

Memphis City Schools and city leaders were back in court Monday, fighting over $60 million, and as the clock keeps ticking toward the first day of school in Memphis, millions of dollars still hang in the balance.

"It's getting mighty close," said Memphis City Schools attorney Javier Bailey.  "Too close for comfort for me.  (I was) hoping we would finish today."

The court battle continues to revolve around $60 million in school funding the Memphis City Council voted to cut from its annual budget.

Attorney Allan Wade, representing the city, says the city is not required to fund the schools with the money it cut.  Meanwhile, MCS attorneys claim if the city withholds its money, the state of Tennessee will withhold $400 million in school funds.

Wade argued the school board hasn't tried to ask the state for more time.

"That hasn't been done because school board wants to keep gloom and doom," he said.

School board member Kenneth Whalum testified the board has not yet exhausted all its options to get the $400 million from the state, claiming they cannot legally withhold the funds.

"(They are) constitutionally obligated to provide free education for everyone in the state of Tennessee," Whalum said.

Bailey said he believes the state will withhold the money regardless of what the school board asks.

School will now start before there is a decision in the case, after the judge on Monday said he would not hear closing arguments until August 11th - the same day school starts in Memphis.

The judge asked for tapes and transcripts of what lawmakers said when they passed the funding bill, to determine if it applies to cities or not.

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