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<br />Charter drama yields compromise, vote storylines

A new chapter in the ongoing drama over the Memphis City Schools charter will unfold at a special-called meeting where the Memphis City Schools board will weigh an olive-branch-like offer extended by Shelby County Schools.
 
 Former mayor and former superintendent of Memphis City Schools, Dr. Willie W. Herenton, weighs in on the hot topic of a move that would effectively consolidate Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools during a forum hosted Thursday by County Commissioner Henri Brooks – in conjunction with the Reginald Milton and the South Memphis Alliance – at the STAX Museum at 926 East McLemore Ave. (Photos by Earl Stanback)

A new chapter in the ongoing drama over the Memphis City Schools charter will unfold at a special-called meeting where the Memphis City Schools board will weigh an olive-branch-like offer extended by Shelby County Schools.

 
 Brooks helps set the context for a forum on “Issues Surrounding the MCS Charter Dissolution”. Panelists included (l-r) Dr. Herenton, Steve Mulroy, Shelby County Board of Commissioners, and Cardell Orin, Citizens for Better Education. A second forum is scheduled for Jan. 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Hollywood Community Center, 1560 N. Hollywood, in conjunction with Dorothy Cox, president of the Midtown North Community Association and special community liaison – Rhodes College.

The operative word associated with the latest development seemingly is “timeout”. Shelby County Schools (SCS) wants a 15-month period for the two sides to plan together. The SCS offer would also give all voters in Shelby County the chance to cast ballots, if a school consolidation proposal comes into play after that interval.

Here, however, is the hurdle: After having voted last month to surrender the charter, the MCS board first would have to rescind that action before action can be taken on the SCS proposal. On Thursday, the MCS board agreed to consider the matter next week.

In the mix is a meeting that the Shelby County Election Commission has scheduled for Wednesday (Jan. 19). On the agenda is setting the date for a citywide vote that could put control of the Memphis City Schools in the hands of Shelby County Schools.

Other developments:

Mark Goins, the state coordinator of elections, notified local Election Commission officials that his office was Ok with putting the matter of transferring administration of City Schools to SCS before Memphis voters without City Council approval. The key apparently was satisfaction that the emphasis would be on the transfer and not on surrender of the MCS charter. Prior to that clarification, an earlier opinion from his office had said Council approval was needed.

With that development in hand, the Election Commission apparently will look to set a vote within 45-60 days, counting from Jan. 13.

No action was taken on a Chancery Court lawsuit filed on behalf of a group called Citizens for Better Education when it was learned that the Election Commission had decided to set a date for the election. The group advocates such an election in light of the MCS Dec. 20 vote to transfer control of the schools to SCS (and surrender the MCS charter).

Meanwhile in Nashville, pending legislation that would put in place a one-year period for planning and set up a countywide vote on consolidating the MCS and SCS systems was put in go-slow mode by its sponsor, Collierville Republican Mark Norris, the Senate Majority Leader, in view of the MCS-SCS development.


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