School funding crisis takes another turn - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

School funding crisis takes another turn

Memphis City Council members are making Memphis City Schools jump through hoops to settle the funding crisis.

The battle has taken so many turns it may seem confusing.

There are two issues:

  • Should the city be obligated to fund city schools?
  • And will the current court battle cause city schools lose $423 million in state funds?

Tuesday, the Council's Budget Committee passed a resolution that could temporarily remedy the state funding issue, while leaving the other issue still up in the air.

It all began in June, when the Council cut $67 million in school funding to lower taxes.  Then, Memphis City Schools took them to court, saying the cuts violated state code.  The Council then counter-sued for old debt, putting the final budget on hold.

If the two sides don't reach an agreement by October 1, the school system could lose $423 million in state funding.  

That brings us to Tuesday's developments, which are just as convoluted.

The council passed a resolution to have Memphis City Schools pay $57.5 million to the city for old debt, and then the city would pay the school system $57.5 million dollars.

Memphis City Attorney Allan Wade said they are doing it this way because it makes their point clear: They do not believe the city is obligated to fund city schools.

The State Department of Education said the transfers would satisfy state guidelines so the schools can get the $423 million.

The school system had no comment Tuesday. The ball is now in their court to either accept the council's offer or fight.  Both parties are back in court Friday, when a judge will decide if they need a mediator to solve their clash.

Click here to e-mail Kontji Anthony.

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