Tuesday, January 18, 2011

MCS Board and New Compromise

Posted By on Tue, Jan 18, 2011 at 3:58 PM

click to enlarge Jeff Warren - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
The Memphis City Schools board meets Tuesday evening to consider yet another proposed compromise that would override a referendum on charter surrender in the next 60 days. Since this is not a scheduled meeting, a majority of members would have to agree to suspend some rules to take a binding vote. Jeff Warren, a proponent of compromise throughout this process, helped put together the latest proposal with members of the Shelby County school board and the state legislature. The proposed agreement says it is to take effect "regardless of the outcome of the MCS charter surrender resolution vote or Shelby County Schools obtaining special district status." If the surrender vote is held and prevails, then the MCS board and administration, under Warren's proposal, would agree to continue to serve the former MCS system, if requested by Shelby County schools, until the new model can be developed. The main provisions include hiring a school district governance expert, appointing a joint committee by March 1st, and coming up with a new model for city and county schools based on a chancellor and five smaller districts than either of the current districts. The team would make a recommendation to the city and county school boards by June 1, 2012. After that the boards would have one month to adopt the recommendations, subject to a countywide referendum. "Otherwise Shelby County School Systems would assume control of MCS on failure of the vote," the proposal says. All obligations under the proposed agreement expire in three years unless the governing bodies mutually agree to modify the term. If the board decides to take up this new proposal, there are several likely sticking points, some of which are beyond the board's control. One of them is the provision that says "the team" will lobby the legislature to make all current local funding bodies remain a funding source for the new model. Memphis city government, in other words, would continue to provide additional school funding of roughly $82 million a year. The Shelby County Election Commission is scheduled to meet Wednesday to set a date for a city-only referendum on shifting schools administration to Shelby County. The next scheduled city school board meeting is January 24th.

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