There was a Part Two to the suburban plea for an end to the Commission’s lawsuit against the creation of municipal school districts on Monday, and it took place before the Shelby County Commission itself at the heel of the Commission’s regular meeting.
After a suburban resident or two had addressed the county legislative body, Ken Hoover, chief spokesperson at the earlier press conference in the lobby of the county building, came to the dock and presented a distilled version of what he had already spoken to at the press conference.
Not without a full dose of I-told-you-so and a taste or two of irony, Hoover focused on the loss, implicit in the proposed Unified School District budget, of 443 positions to the suburban schools — and, even as amended in a revised budget prospectus due Tuesday, of no less than 377.
His remarks to the Commission were followed by a mini-philippic from Commissioner Terry Roland, who placed the blame for the ongoing litigation — and, by implication, for the seemingly insoluble budget crunch of the Unified System — on the County Commission itself, for presuming to take charge of the merger process and establish a structure for it.
Commissioner Wyatt Bunker, a onetime member of the old Shelby County Schools board, continued along lines set by his two predecessors, but he concluded with his announcement of “a resolution directing …our attorney, Leo Bearman, to take all measures necessary to withdraw the County Commission’s lawsuit opposing the creation of municipal schools.”
To be voted on at Monday’s meeting required a suspension of the rules, which predictably failed, given the Commission’s 8-5 balance of power favoring merger proponents. But Bunker will have a chance to add his resolution to the next Commission agenda, two weeks hence. And it will no doubt be debated in committee on Wednesday, February 20.
Meanwhile, Roland, who apparently made a pilgrimage to Nashville last week, and other suburban advocates insist that, despite the reluctance of last year’s General Assembly to pass legislation opening the way to new municipal school districts statewide, this year’s legislature will be a different story.
All that is certain is that there will be a Unified School District in 2013-14 that includes the whole of Shelby County. How it gets paid for and what comes after that are questions not yet answered.