Haslam Signs Schools Consolidation Bill

By Bill Dries

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has signed the schools consolidation bill into law.

The signing took place this morning in Nashville. He signed the bill the day after it won approval in the state House. It was approved in the Senate Monday.

The bill preserves the March 8 citywide referendum on consolidation of the Memphis City Schools with the Shelby County Schools system. It lengthens the time to transition to two and a half years, establishes a 21-member transition committee to work out details of the consolidation and opens the door to special and municipal school district status sought by suburban political leaders to block such a consolidation.

"The bill addresses two of my biggest concerns," Haslam said in a written statement. "It allows an orderly planning process for transition, while leaving the local vote in place for March 8."

“My primary concern, however, has always been that we focus our discussions on what is best for the 150,000 students in Memphis and Shelby County," he continued. "I think the situation, if we will handle it in a thoughtful manner, can be an opportunity for all of us to have a discussion about how we keep moving forward with public education in Memphis and Shelby County.”  

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. called a 3:30 p.m. press conference at City Hall to respond. What this web site for updates.