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VOL. 126 | NO. 233 | Wednesday, November 30, 2011

School Board To Discuss Policy on School Sales

By Bill Dries

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The countywide schools board is waiting on a plan for the merging of the two public school systems in Shelby County.

But there are already indications the board of 23 will take up some ideas for common policies for both school systems before a plan arrives next summer from the consolidation planning commission. That includes a policy to set terms for the possible sale of school buildings to a separate suburban school system that might arise in 2013.

A resolution introduced by countywide school board member Martavius Jones at the Tuesday, Nov. 29, board meeting calls on the legal counsels for each school system and both superintendents to recommend a specific policy for how school buildings in the school districts might be transferred to a special school district or a municipal school district.

Jones said the policy they would recommend to the full board would “reflect any dealings with special school districts or municipal school districts.”

The board will discuss the resolution at its December work session and could vote on it at the last board meeting of the year the following week.

The resolution is to be discussed as the six suburban municipalities await a report from consultants in mid-January that will outline possible options for a school system separate from the merged countywide school system. The options include the creation of a separate suburban school system. A key financial consideration is whether such a school system would have to buy the school buildings in a town or set of towns for fair market value or at some discounted amount.

Jones also offered another resolution for December that would specifically affect the way the school board conducts business.

During a marathon five hour work session last week, Memphis City Schools superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash wondered why so many contracts and expenditures for his school system are on the agenda with only one or two similar items for the Shelby County Schools system.

Such items required a vote of the old MCS board. But the SCS system requires only the approval of the county schools superintendent and the county school board chairman.

Jones introduced a resolution at the Tuesday meeting that would change the county school system procedure and “align” it with the MCS policy.

In other action, the board voted 13-9 in favor of holding a set of sessions on boardsmanship with the non-profit Center for Reform of School Systems. Details of the timing of the sessions remain to be worked out.

But school board vice chairman Jeff Warren initially suggested three to four hour sessions one Saturday a month for the next five to seven months. Warren has found a private group willing to pay the estimated $42,000 tab for the workshops.

Some on the board questioned the need for the sessions with the Texas-based group with elections for seven of the 23 school board seats on the Aug. 2012 countywide ballot and the winners of those seven seats taking office Sept. 1. The other 16 board positions which are held by members of the old Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools boards will be eliminated with the merger of the school systems themselves at the start of the 2013-2014 school year. That’s when the board is to slim down to seven board members representing the entire county.

Meanwhile, the schools consolidation planning commission hopes to have indirectly hired Boston Consulting Group at its meeting Thursday, Dec. 1, to assist it in developing a plan for the school system merger that is to take place at the start of the 2013-2014 school year.

Planning Commission chairman Barbara Prescott said the group has worked up a memorandum of understanding by which the Shelby County Schools Foundation will hold the contract for the services and private groups would pay the cost of hiring the firm.

Prescott said more details would come at Thursday’s meeting including disclosure of the group of private foundations and corporations who have donated the funding.

PROPERTY SALES 69 163 12,921
MORTGAGES 35 85 8,088
BUILDING PERMITS 109 531 30,465
BANKRUPTCIES 18 85 6,149