At its first meeting as a seven-member body with one vacancy, the countywide school board voted Tuesday, Sept. 3, to authorize its chairman to negotiate contract terms with interim schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson.
The vote by the board scraps already delayed plans to conduct a national search for a permanent superintendent and makes Hopson the permanent superintendent. That is conditioned on Hopson and the school board coming to contract terms in talks between Hopson and school board chairman Billy Orgel.
Hopson, a Memphis native, returned to the city in 2008 as general counsel to Memphis City Schools.
When MCS superintendent Kriner Cash resigned in December 2012, the countywide school board, which was then 23 members, appointed Hopson as interim MCS superintendent. When Shelby County Schools superintendent John Aitken resigned his post a few months later, Hopson was appointed by the same board as interim SCS superintendent making him the leader of the consolidation effort that was then month away from the start of the first school year.
At the time, Hopson said he had no interest in applying for the job on a permanent basis.
But as the first fiscal year began on July 1 followed a month later by the first day of classes, Hopson began to talk of more long range plans. He also said the consolidation of schools would continue to unfold well into the first year and beyond.
Leaders of Shelby County’s six suburban towns and cities are expected to separate from the merged school system and form their own separate school districts in the second school year of the reformation of public education in Shelby County. School board elections in all six of the suburban towns and cities are on the ballot for Nov. 7 which is the second of two ballot questions required to form such school districts under state law.
Hopson has said he wants the Shelby County Schools system to position itself to provide services to those school districts as well as charter schools and state-run Achievement School District schools. He has also talked of how the suburban school systems might impact budget decisions and other decisions like school closings for the consolidated school system that remains – basically the old Memphis City Schools territory and the unincorporated county outside Memphis.
The school board has one vacant seat that the Shelby County Commission is scheduled to fill at its Sept. 9 meeting. Reginald Porter, who held the District 6 seat, resigned earlier this year to become Hopson’s chief of staff.