School Board Races Next for Suburbs

By Bill Dries

Look for suburban school board races probably in November now that voters in the six suburban towns and cities in Shelby County have approved forming municipal school districts.

Municipal schools were approved overwhelmingly in all Shelby County suburbs, including Collierville, where nearly 95 percent voted yes. 

(Daily News/Lance Murphey)

The results were never close in any of the separate referendums on the Tuesday, July 16, special election ballots in each of the towns and cities.

The ballot questions were the only items on the ballots.

In Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville and Germantown, the ballot proposition won with more than 90 percent of the vote. The “yes” percentage in Lakeland was 87 percent and 74 percent in Millington.

While each town and city had to make a separate decision on a separate school district, a total of more than 143,000 voters live in the area. Just less than 30,000 turned out to vote early or on election day for a 20.5 percent voter turnout.

Unofficial vote returns from the Shelby County Election Commission went as follows:

Arlington

Yes: 1,935 or 94 percent
No: 130 or 6 percent

Bartlett

Yes: 7,033 or 91 percent
No: 664 or 9 percent

Collierville

Yes: 8,060 or 94 percent
No: 505 or 6 percent

Germantown

Yes: 7,500 or 93 percent
No: 545 or 7 percent

Lakeland

Yes: 1,582 or 87 percent
No: 234 or 13 percent

Millington

Yes: 923 or 74 percent
No: 328 or 26 percent

Election commissioners are scheduled to meet July 31 to certify the results. With that, suburban leaders’ next move is setting a date that probably will be in November to fill school board seats on the six separate school boards.

Those leaders have said their goal is to open their school systems on the first day of classes in the 2014-2015 school year.

For the first year of the consolidated school system that begins Aug. 5, students and schools in the suburban areas will be part of the merged district.

The results of the 2012 referendums on the school districts were voided by U.S. District Court Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays last year. He ruled the state law setting the rules for forming such school districts violated the Tennessee Constitution because the law passed by the Tennessee legislature that year applied only to Shelby County.

The legislature in 2013 passed a new law that lifted the statewide ban on establishing such school districts.

The court decision also voided the results of 2012 school board races in each of the six suburban towns and cities before those results could be certified by the Election Commission.