Simultaneous with published reports that the search firm hired by the unified School Board wants a delay in looking for superintendency candidates, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell has said he thinks a year-long delay in school merger itself would be helpful.
Luttrell told members of the Memphis Rotary Club Tuesday that the likelihood of multiple school systems in Shelby County’s suburbs and the complications stemming from that process would make such a delay desirable. Luttrell also expressed frustration with the efforts of the unified Board in resolving matters that impinge on its own budget — and consequently on that of the county at large.
“We still don’t know what the schools will cost. I thought we would have a budget for them by now,” Luttrell said. “Maybe we’ll get something from them by May.”
The impatience in the mayor’s voice was almost palpable as he told the Rotarians, “To say I’m frustrated with the School Board is an understatement. They have done us a disservice.”
Luttrell said his own need to prepare a county budget has been hampered by the Board’s failure to come to grip with unfinished items on its agenda. Only last week, in two meetings, the Board — deadlocked between contrary points of view held by holdover members of the erstwhile Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools boards—failed to make headway on school closures or whom the new system should hire for cleaning purposes.
Asked if a year’s delay might be a viable alternative to completing city/county school merger by this August, Luttrell said, “Yes, I think it would.”
Luttrell’s opinion would seem to coincide with that expressed by officials of PROACT, the Board’s search firm. According to The Commercial Appeal. , the search firm, like Luttrell, has been put off by uncertainties created by School Board inaction and would prefer to pursue the search in earnest ”in the fall and winter months.”
Board member Chris Caldwell has said he will present the firm’s request for consideration at Tuesday night’s Board meeting.