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VOL. 126 | NO. 174 | Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Countywide School Board List Hits 100

By Bill Dries

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Shelby County Commissioners are preparing for a long afternoon Wednesday, Sept. 7, as they interview applicants for the seven seats the commission will fill on the new countywide school board.

The interview sessions before the general government committee chaired by commissioner Mike Carpenter begin at noon.

At the noon Tuesday deadline to apply, 100 citizens had applied for the appointments.

Of that total, more than half -- 55 -- of the applicants for the seven seats are those who applied earlier this year and were finalists when the commission was moving ahead with plans to appoint a 25-member school board.

The list grew with an apparent last minute walk up of 26 new applicants in the two hours before the noon deadline. The application and questionairre were available online via county government's web site.

The new applicants since the March application process include Ken Hoover, who ran for county school board in 2010 in a challenge of county school board chairman David Pickler. Hoover is among the applicants for the District 4 seat, which takes in Germantown and Collierville. Billy Orgel, a local businessman who served on the Metro Charter Commission, has also applied for the District 7 seat, which is East Memphis and parts of Cordova.

Among the applicants toward the noon deadline were former interim Memphis City Schools board members Willie Brooks Jr. and Ed Vaughn

Both will be among the new applicants the commission questions Wednesday. The original applicants will have a chance to introduce themselves again to commissioners but probably won’t undergo a full interview, Carpenter said last month.

The committee could also conduct a non-binding straw poll of the contenders in each district as it did earlier this year.

The full commission meets Monday, Sept. 12 to make the seven appointments. If the committee meeting Monday stays with the practice of listing finalists for each position, it remains a recommendation that does not prevent any commissioner from nominating any citizen for an appointment.

The commission had completed its interviews of more than 100 citizens who had applied, including members of both existing school boards in March, and was hours away from making the appointments when it put the effort on hold at the request of Memphis federal court Judge Hardy Mays.

The terms of the legal settlement reached last month on the consolidation transition have also defused some of the political arms race to get city and county school board members on the board. With all nine current MCS board members and all seven SCS board members included, that has opened up some of the seven appointments to others.

It also had the same effect on the planning commission that had largely taken shape as the long Labor Day weekend began. A pair of former school board members – one county and one city were among the choices of the MCS board – Fred Johnson and Barbara Prescott, respectively.

And Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell picked former Shelby County Commissioner Joyce Avery. But the other spots on the planning commission so far have gone to business leaders, higher education leaders and those involved in education reform groups, private schools and charter schools.

As the week began, the only appointment left to the planning commission was the choice of Lt. Gov. and Tennessee Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey.

Also still to come is the appointment of a special master by Mays to oversee compliance with the terms of his earlier court ruling on schools consolidation as well as the terms of the settlement.

PROPERTY SALES 36 154 6,546
MORTGAGES 34 94 4,129
BUILDING PERMITS 201 554 15,915
BANKRUPTCIES 43 126 3,396