Amended Norris Bill Clears Senate Education Committee

By Bill Dries

A bill to lengthen the schools consolidation process by three years won the approval of the state Senate Education Committee Wednesday afternoon in Nashville.

The proposal by Senate Republican leader Mark Norris of Nashville was amended with changes that were still being written up to the start of the committee session. The approval by committee on a 6-3 vote means the bill goes to the State Senate for a floor vote Monday evening, the first day of the regular legislative session.

Norris’ proposal, as amended, abandons the idea of a second countywide referendum on schools consolidation and leaves in place the March 8 citywide referendum.

But if city voters approve the Memphis City Schools charter surrender and effectively merge MCS with Shelby County Schools, the consolidation wouldn’t be effective for another three years.

During that time, a 21-member committee with most of its members appointed by the Shelby County mayor and both school boards would work out a transition plan.

When the consolidation takes effect, Norris’ proposal would then lift the state’s ban on the creation of any new municipal school districts and special school districts only for the county where such a merger takes place.