"What we are proposing is a wind-down period of 120 days," Wharton said.
The mayors are seeking new legislation to make it legally binding because of the potential Memphis sudden surrender and the unique Memphis City Schools' charter.
Wharton and Luttrell agreed that they will remain neutral between now and the referendum — probably in February — but try to provide both a contingent transition structure and voter information. They said the answer to questions about taxes and jobs in the event of charter surrender is not clear. but they will give information from other cities and counties that consolidated their schools, such as Chattanooga and Hamilton County.
"There are still a multitude of unanswered questions," said Luttrell. "Quite honestly, there are no clear answers to all these questions."
The mayors held a joint press conference at City Hall attended by several Memphis City Council members, Shelby County commissioners, and school board members Freda Williams and Martavius Jones.
If the referendum passes, the mayors would appoint an 11-member planning team including public officials and four citizens at large.
The planning team would have authority over school district governance, infrastructure, and recommendations relative to school board membership and district size. It would not have authority on budgeting issues but could make recommendations.