Commission Calls Special Meeting on School Board Vacancy

By Bill Dries

Shelby County Commission chairman Mike Ritz has called a special meeting of the body for Wednesday, Aug. 14, to set a timetable for filling a vacancy on the countywide school board.

The one item of business on the special meeting agenda, announced Friday, Aug. 9, is a resolution that sets a new timetable for filling the vacancy left in school board District 6 when Reginald Porter became chief of staff to interim schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson.

The resolution proposes that commissioners interview applicants for the District 6 school board seat during an Aug. 28 committee session, with the full commission voting on the appointment at its Sept. 9 meeting.

The commission scrapped its previous timetable for filling the vacancy at its Monday meeting after Ritz introduced a resolution that would have linked the process to a restructuring of the school board to a 13-member body.

U.S. District Court Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays ruled Wednesday that the school board will remain at seven members starting Sept. 1 and going through Sept. 1, 2014. After that, the board will expand to 13 members, adding six members to be elected in August 2014 instead of appointed by the county commission.

The Sept. 17 school board work session will be the body's first meeting after it shrinks from its current 23 members to seven members. The 23-member transitional school board was a feature of a federal court settlement in 2011. It included all nine members of the old Memphis City Schools board and all seven members of the old Shelby County Schools board.

Under terms of the same settlement, those legacy school board positions go off the school board effective Sept. 1, leaving the seven members elected in the August 2012 county elections.