VOL. 126 | NO. 185 | Thursday, September 22, 2011
First Schools Consolidation Session Sets Calendar For Merger Groups
By Bill Dries
The first meeting Wednesday, Sept. 21, of the schools consolidation transition planning commission and the new countywide school board took less than an hour.
But the joint meeting of the two groups included a tight time frame of a year to come up with a blueprint for a schools merger and an already busy schedule of more meetings for each body starting next week with the planning commission.
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell also announced that he and Memphis City Schools board president Martavius Jones and Shelby County Schools chairman David Pickler will have votes as ex-officio members of the 21-member planning commission.
The Shelby County Attorney’s office has issued a legal opinion saying they can vote. State law included all three on the body as well as giving them the power to appoint members to the planning commission. Luttrell said there was a mistaken assumption that ex officio status meant they could not vote.
Jones and Pickler also serve and vote on the incoming countywide school board.
The first question was from MCS board member Jeff Warren who wanted to know if those on the new board could confer privately with those on the planning commission without violating the state’s open meetings law. They can, according to attorneys advising both groups. Because of their dual status, there can be no cross body communication on public issues with Pickler or Jones.
Meanwhile, the two groups heard that the planning commission will come up with a specific plan for the schools merger to happen in August 2013 and send it to the state for approval once the countywide school board approves it. The planning commission and school board could do that in pieces or with one time votes on an overall plan. But Luttrell says they must do it by August 2012 under terms of the state law governing the merger.
The new dates on the calendar for both groups are:
Sept. 29: First meeting of the planning commission, 4:30 p.m., Shelby County Code Enforcement office on Mullins Station Road.
Oct. 3: Countywide school board takes oath of office, 5:30 p.m., MCS auditorium
Oct. 10 & Oct. 13: Tentative dates for two orientation sessions for school board members on duties and boardsmanship
Oct. 20: First countywide school board work session.
Oct. 27: First countywide school board voting meeting.