New Schools Computer System Behind Schedule

By Bill Dries

One of the earliest items on the schools merger checklist was a new computer system that would handle the payroll and other human resources needs of Shelby County’s two school systems once they become one at the start of the new fiscal year July 1.

And the work on the Enterprise Resource Planning system was touted by leaders of both school systems as an example of how they were working together on the merger transition.

Less than three months from the start of the fiscal year, however, countywide school board members heard work on the system is “significantly” behind because of a lack of “timely made decisions” by schools administrators.

That was the bottom line of a briefing the school board got Tuesday, April 23, from KPMG project consultants. The consulting team also said it had been sounding the alarm on the delays continuously.

KPMG is recommending the board tell its staff to begin assembling a contingency plan.

The $15 million for the ERP system was also the first allocation of funding for the merger made by the Shelby County Commission.

Meanwhile, the board is about to move ahead with an inventory audit listing the property and other assets of the two school systems.

School board member Kevin Woods noted the audit was among the 172 recommendations made by the consolidation planning commission. “Why wasn’t this done six months ago?” he asked.

Fellow board member David Pickler said both school systems have been moving toward the goal and will move quickly to complete the audit before the fiscal year’s start.

In other action, school board member Kenneth Whalum Jr. added a resolution to next week’s agenda that would ask U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays to “suspend” the Aug. 5 start of the schools merger.

Whalum is calling for the delay because of the probability of the formation of municipal school districts in Shelby County’s six suburban towns and cities.

The Tennessee General Assembly has passed a law lifting the statewide ban on the creation of such school districts.

Mayors of the six towns and cities are working toward the first step of ballot questions on the formation of the school districts with a tentative election date for the referendums in July.