VOL. 126 | NO. 191 | Friday, September 30, 2011
Prescott Leads Schools Planning Commission
By Bill Dries
Former Memphis City Schools board member Barbara Prescott is chairman on the new schools consolidation planning commission.
Prescott was elected at the first meeting of the 21-member body Thursday, Sept. 29, at Shelby Farms Park.
Prescott was elected without opposition in the organizational session of the group, which will meet again Thursday, Oct. 6, at 4:30 p.m. also at the county code enforcement office on Mullins Station Road.
The group’s first meeting revealed plenty of lingering questions about exactly how the planning commission will interact with the 23-member countywide school board that takes office Monday, Oct. 3.
Some wondered when exactly they had to have a plan for schools consolidation to send to the state that the new countywide school board will eventually have to approve as well. Some of that will depend on how long it will take state education department officials to review the plan.
“We’ve really got to back it up,” said commissioner Chris Richards, referring to the creation of a commission timeline that works backwards from the Aug. 2013 start of the merged school system in its first school year.
MCS board president Martavius Jones and Shelby County Schools board chairman David Pickler suggested late 2012 would probably be the absolute latest. But Prescott and staff assigned to the commission by Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell will be contacting state education officials for some idea of how long the state needs.
Shelby County Attorney Kelly Rayne also told the group that there is “really not a road map for us here,” in terms of specific guidelines or definitions of roles in state law or the federal court ruling in the schools consolidation lawsuit or the consent decree issued this week that followed the court ruling.
Also at the organizational session, former SCS board member Fred Johnson was elected vice chairman. Kenya Bradshaw was chosen as secretary and retired SCS chief of operations Richard Holden is treasurer.
Commissioners indicated they will probably have some kind of committee structure for specific parts of their plan for creating the new countywide school system.
They began the meeting with a briefing from SCS superintendent John Aitken and MCS deputy superintendent Irving Hamer about the current status of each school system.