VOL. 126 | NO. 139 | Tuesday, July 19, 2011
MCS Board To Talk Over Delaying School Year
By Bill Dries
Memphis City Schools board members will meet for the second time this week Tuesday, July 19, to consider possibly delaying the start of the school year now set to begin Aug. 8.
MCS board members talked over the possibility as they passed a resolution Monday evening expressing their continued dissatisfaction with a lack of funding from the city of Memphis.
The resolution from MCS board member Freda Williams says the city still hasn’t delivered on $9 million owed on a total $78 million court ordered payment for the city council decision to cut funding in 2008.
The resolution says the payment was due at the July 1 start of the current fiscal year.
Without it, board members talked about putting off the start of the school year, shortening the school year or at least writing language into contracts for good and services that would take into account a lack of funding during the school year.
“I’m also saying that if we get into a situation where we run out of money and we start the school year, there ought to be a clause in the contracts that protects the school system,” said MCS superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash.
Cash said he would talk with state officials before Tuesday evening's meeting
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, in town Tuesday morning for the Southern Legislative Conference at The Peabody hotel, said he hadn't talked with Cash but has read accounts of the school board's discussions.
"My gut reaction is in Tennessee we need to go to school more, not less," Haslam said. "Any of our solutions we come up with, I hope don't involve less class time."
The upshot of Monday’s meeting was that Cash has the flexibility to decide which contracts for goods and services for the school year have to be executed now and which can wait.
Among the items delayed by the board were two contracts for an assessment of copier and print management services.
Some board members delayed the items when Cash told them he wasn’t sure how many copiers the school system has and how many it would need for the coming year. Cash said the problem is individual schools have bought printers and copiers on their own over the years with no centralized controls.
“We have a whole and sundry fleet of copiers out there. We have not managed them centrally,” he said. “It may be great business for the vendor but it’s not good business for the district. We had a lot of relationships like that. As I uncover them and find them out, then I bring it to you to go out to bid.”
The assessment would not cost the school system anything, Cash and his staff assured the board.
MCS board member Patrice Robinson said she agreed with the direction Cash wants to take. But she also had concerns about hiring a company later to take on management of the services.
“Every time a company has done the assessment, somehow we were not treated fairly in the process,” she said. “To monitor and manage, I believe that’s a responsibility of the district.”