Spokespersons for the movement to establish separate municipal school systems in Shelby County held a press conference Tuesday in the Vasco Smith county building, urging an end to the Shelby County Commission's ongoing lawsuit against potential MSDs.
Pinning their case on the recently publicized fiscal shortfalls predicted for the Unifed School District, they distributed materials suggesting that such shortfalls -- and cuts in school personnel and programs -- could be avoided if the forthcoming city/county school merger were aborted.
In a ruling last year, U.S. District Judge Hardy Mays declared unconstitutional 2012 legislation in the General Assembly that would have enabled the fast-track establishment of separate suburban school districts. What remains to be adjudicated is the final clause of the 2011 Norris-Todd Act, which permits attempts to create such districts after August 2013.
As principal spokesman Ken Hoover argued it at the press conference, the proposed municipal school districts in the suburbs would be adequately financed by taxes already voted by residents of the suburbs, whereas the soon-to-be Unified District, with predicted deficits in the neighborhood of $90 million or higher, is faced with insuperable obstacles in paying for its services, thereby short-changing parents in the suburbs as well as those in the former Memphis City Schools.
Here, the suburban spokespersons, backed by a group including suburban members of the County Commission, speak for themselves:
One response, from County Commissioner Sidney Chism, came quickly, and it was a No: