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VOL. 128 | NO. 123 | Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New Campaign Urges Support of Students in Merger

By Bill Dries

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A new campaign launched Monday, June 24, to prepare for the opening of the consolidated school district in August is urging citizens to support students of the new school system.

“Our Children. Our Success.” is privately funded by SchoolSeed, which was formerly the Memphis City Schools Foundation. The campaign began Monday with new billboards across the county.

The billboards include the names of nonprofit partner organizations who are part of the coalition including Boys & Girls Clubs, Latino Memphis, Literacy Mid-South, New Direction Christian Church, Urban Youth Initiative, The RISE Foundation and Church Health Center.

“For our future to be bright and have some type of hope for excellence, we’ve got to do our part as citizens, first of all as parents, as business leaders – to help embrace this, to encourage this,” said William Mitchell, board chairman of SchoolSeed. “And let’s not get caught up in the political parts of this, recognizing that the children are the most important part.”

The campaign will include a “back to school weekend” Aug. 3-4, the weekend before the start of the classes for the new school year. Local churches and other faith-based organizations will be asked to pray for students and encourage support for tutoring and mentoring programs.

There also will be a series of forums for parents about the change for parents and students of the old Shelby County Schools and Memphis City Schools systems.

“We want to support the children. I think it’s just a benefit for the community when we embrace learning. That’s how we bring forth great citizens,” Mitchell said of the efforts that will follow the billboards. “This is one community, these children are our responsibility and let’s do everything we can to embrace it, to uplift it, to encourage it.”

The campaign begins as the budget for the first fiscal year of the merged school system has been approved by the Shelby County Commission. Still pending is final approval of a county property tax rate that includes a 6-cent tax hike for funding of the consolidated school system.

Interim schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson will outline layoffs of central office staff for the new school system Tuesday, June 24, at a press conference. Hopson is expected to announce approximately 250 people will lose their jobs in the transition.

Meanwhile, early voting opens Wednesday in three of the county’s six suburban cities and towns on the creation of separate municipal school districts in all six cities and towns.

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