In 2009 Memphis City Schools accepted a $90 million grant from the foundation to improve teaching in the district. The uncertain fate of the grant if MCS surrenders its charter has been an issue recently. A spokesperson for the foundation released this statement Thursday:
"The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation came to Memphis because of its students and teachers, its courageous district, union and board leadership, and the community’s clear commitment to improving educational outcomes for all. We will stay in Memphis for the same reasons.
"Dr. Kriner Cash and his team have our deep appreciation for their “student first” approach and our strong confidence in their continued leadership. The teachers of Memphis have our deep respect for their commitment to the Teacher Effectiveness Initiative and the students of Memphis. The decision to surrender the charter does not change that.
"If approved by the voters of Memphis, consolidation will be a challenging process. But we have every confidence that regardless of what is ultimately decided by Memphians, the board and leadership of Memphis City Schools will continue to put students and teachers first.
"We are committed either way—to a continued Memphis City Schools or a consolidated Shelby County Schools, as long as effective teaching and improved outcomes for all students remains a top priority."
It was signed by Vicki Phillips, Director of Education, College-Ready, and released to the Memphis City Council and posted by Councilman Myron Lowery.