by Tarrin McGhee
Special to Tri-State Defender
Kevin Huffman, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Education, is visiting Memphis this week to provide an update on initiatives to improve education locally and across the state of Tennessee.
On Thursday (Dec. 1), Huffman will address questions from the Transition Planning Commission at their December meeting regarding the planned merger of Memphis and Shelby County Schools.
The 21-member Transition Planning Commission is the government body made responsible for developing a plan to consolidate the two public school systems by the start of the 2013 school year. The commission was crafted to take on that role after a countywide referendum was passed earlier this year by Memphis voters in favor of a unified school district.
Members of the Transition Planning Commission are working to complete and submit the merger plan for approval from local and state education officials by September 2012. Individually, each member serves on one of seven committees that have been established for operations: Administrative, Educational/Academic Services/Plan, Communications, Finance and HR/Personnel .
In an update provided for members of the Shelby County Unified School Board at a meeting held on Tuesday night, Transition Planning Commission Chairwoman Barbara Prescott said Huffman is expected to bring clarity to several complex issues related to the planning process in an effort to streamline progress.
“Our committees have been working to address particular items…and there are a lot of things that are not absolutely spelled out,” Prescott said. “We are looking forward to discussing these things with him.”
Huffman, executive vice president of Public Affairs for Teach for America, was appointed as Tennessee’s Education Commissioner in March by Gov. Bill Haslam following a nationwide search to fill the position in state government.
The Shelby County Transition Planning Commission meeting will be held at the Office of Construction Code Enforcement located at 6465 Mullins Station Rd and is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. The meeting is open the public.