VOL. 126 | NO. 211 | Friday, October 28, 2011
Schools Planning Group Maps Path
By Bill Dries
The schools consolidation planning commission will probably hire a consultant sometime next month and the group should begin making the first decisions on what a consolidated school system looks like early next year.
Four firms have responded to the group’s request for proposal according to Dr. Fred Johnson of the planning commission, who is heading the committee coordinating a recommendation.
Planning Commission chairwoman Barbara Prescott said at the Thursday, Oct. 27, session of the group that they should start setting the structure for consolidation of Shelby County’s two public school systems at the start of 2012. But first, the group will get a consultant in place and talk with leaders of other merged school systems as well as leaders of individual schools locally.
Still to come next month is what is expected to be a detailed briefing by Memphis City Schools superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash on his education reform efforts. Cash’s presentation at the Nov. 3 meeting with also include leaders of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is funding a seven year $90 million effort to better evaluate teachers, help in their development and encourage teachers to remain in the profession.
The planning commission is tentatively scheduled to hear from leaders of the merged Charlotte, N.C. – Mecklenburg County school system.
Last week the board heard from those involved in the merged Chattanooga-Hamilton County school system at its Nov. 17 meeting.
The planning commission’s specific task is to come up with the structure for the merged school system and submit it to the countywide school board and state education officials for approval.
Some commission members say even though those decisions won’t start being made for several months, the group should start now aggressively countering rumors they are already hearing from parents of school children about what the merger will mean.
Katie Stanton, former head of the Shelby County Education Association, said she has already heard from Bartlett parents who say they’ve heard county school system students there will be bused to schools in Orange Mound. They will not be.
Former Shelby County Commissioner Tommy Hart said he is continually encountering citizens who believe the planning commission and the school board are the same entity.