VOL. 126 | NO. 178 | Tuesday, September 13, 2011
County Commission Completes New School Board
By Bill Dries
Shelby County Commissioners made seven appointments Monday, Sept. 12, to the new countywide school board that takes office Oct. 1.
The appointment process completes a 23-member board that is to take office Oct. 1 with the seven appointees joining the nine current Memphis City Schools board members and the seven current Shelby County Schools board members.
The appointees are:
•District 1: Chris Caldwell
•District 2: Teresa Jones
•District 3: Raphael McInnis
•District 4: Vanecia Kimbrow
•District 5: Kevin Woods
•District 6: Reginald Porter
•District 7: Chris Caldwell
Also Monday, attorney Lori Patterson, representing the County Commission in the federal lawsuit that led to schools consolidation said the seven board members elected in the Aug. 2012 elections will begin their service on Sept. 1, 2012 – not Sept. 1, 2013 when the other 16 members of the transitional board are phased out.
That means the appointees serve approximately a year before those elected to the districts take over and serve for another year with the 16 MCS and SCS board members. The appointees can run in the 2012 school board races.
The point is one of several from the settlement among all parties in the lawsuit that are expected to be clarified in a coming consent decree by Memphis federal court Judge Hardy Mays.
The agreement was vague on the topic leading some to believe the seven board members elected in Aug. 2012 would take office on Sept. 1, 2013.
“Effective Sept. 1, 2013,” the agreement reads, “the seven members elected in Aug. 2012 will constitute the Shelby County Board of Education and govern the combined school system.”
The agreement doesn’t specifically say when those members take office.
But in response to a question from Commissioner Mike Ritz, Patterson said Monday the intent is clearly for the newly elected board members to take office the month after the elections and not a year later. She said that point will be cleared up in a consent decree Mays is preparing that could be 30 to 40 pages long.
The District 1 appointment was the hardest for the commission to complete. It took 12 rounds of voting. The first nine rounds were with one commissioner, Wyatt Bunker, missing. Bunker back problems flared up requiring an early exit from the meeting to go to the hospital. The commission deadlocked and moved the District 1 decision to the end of its agenda. By then Bunker had returned.
He returned during the commission’s debate over the District 5 appointment in which commissioners chose newcomer Kevin Woods over Tennessee Senator Jim Kyle.
During the discussion, Bunker, a Republican, called Kyle, a Democrat, a “political hack.” The vote in favor of Woods was the closest the commission got to a party line vote. The only exception was a key vote by Democratic commissioner Justin Ford who joined the six Republicans in supporting Woods.