VOL. 128 | NO. 220 | Monday, November 11, 2013
Suburban School Boards Set, Other Issues Remain
By Bill Dries
Voters in Shelby County’s six suburban towns and cities completed the process Thursday, Nov. 7, of establishing the basics of their municipal school districts, with elections for their respective school boards.
Once the Shelby County Election Commission certifies the election results, the school boards are expected to move quickly to hire their respective superintendents.
The set of elections Thursday decided six contested races among a slate of many more school board races that were one-candidate uncontested races effectively decided at the filing deadline for candidates earlier this year.
The turnout, based on the unofficial vote counts, ranged from 1.4 percent in Collierville, where all five school board races were uncontested, to an 8 percent turnout in Germantown, where the lone contested race featured a field of three, the largest field of candidates in any of the six contested races across the six suburbs.
In that race, Linda Fisher came out on top over Paige Michael and Edgar A. Babian.
The Germantown School Board formally joins a discussion already well underway between Germantown civic leaders and Shelby County Schools leaders about the proposal by Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson to keep Germantown Elementary, Middle and High Schools in the SCS system.
Germantown Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy took a formal request to the Shelby County Schools board last week seeking terms that would allow the Germantown Schools district to claim the three “G-schools” – or at least Germantown Elementary School, which, unlike the other two, does not have a majority of its student body living in the Memphis annexation reserve area.
“We were giving them an opportunity to talk,” Shelby County Schools board chairman Kevin Woods said the day after the presentation. “We still have questions on how they would plan to educate those kids for the long haul.”
Goldsworthy’s proposal seeks to maintain current attendance zones for the schools that not only include children in unincorporated Shelby County but also approximately 1,000 Germantown High School students who live in Collierville. But the agreement doesn’t guarantee that “in perpetuity” – a phrase Woods and others on the board have used as they express concerns that if the number of students living in Germantown and attending Germantown schools grows, the children who live elsewhere would be pushed out.
“I’m not sure it changed the mind of the superintendent that we still need those facilities to educate kids,” Woods said of Goldsworthy’s proposal. “That’s really what it boils down to. The message that needs to be put out is regardless if Shelby County (Schools) is operating those schools or Germantown with the same great principals, teachers and parental involvement, we should still have great education in those schools.”
Goldsworthy has said attendance zones always change to reflect shifts in school-age population. Her proposal includes a collaborative review by both school boards on any changes in the attendance zones in which neither school board could unilaterally rezone children from unincorporated Shelby County out of the Germantown Schools system.
“I think it was much different from the original conversation and the original comments that were made about what any kind of a new Germantown school system would look like,” said Shelby County Schools board vice chairman Chris Caldwell the day after he got the proposal. “I think I still have a lot of questions that need to be answered.”
Meanwhile, in other suburban school board election results:
• Millington had three contested races for its seven-member school board, which has two more positions than the other suburban schools boards. Cecilia Haley, Jennifer Ray Carroll and Donald K. Holsinger were the winners in those races.
• Bartlett voters elected Erin Elliott Berry and David Cook to the Bartlett Schools board in the two contested races on the ballot there.
• Lakeland voters chose from a single list of seven contenders for five positions on the Lakeland school board, with the five top vote-getters claiming the seats. Those were Kevin Floyd, Laura Harrison, Kelley Hale, Matt Wright and Teresa Henry.
• There were also no contested school board races in Arlington.