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VOL. 131 | NO. 75 | Thursday, April 14, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: Tubby Fever, School Closings and March Real Estate Numbers

By Bill Dries

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The Tigers basketball grapevine is nothing but Tubby Smith as of Wednesday when the speculation was joined by torrent of rumors about contact between the Texas Tech coach and the University of Memphis.
Smith has now acknowledged he’s talking with the U of M.
More background on Smith from The Sporting News and Mike DeCourcy, a former sports reporter at The Commercial Appeal, that came out before everything went Tubby here.

A follow-up to our story in the Wednesday edition about the still-forming Shelby County Schools budget plan.
In our interview with SCS superintendent Dorsey Hopson, he said he would likely propose closing some schools for the school year that begins in August.
Hopson and school board members got together Wednesday evening to talk over detailed budget options for the first time and Hopson offered more details on what he has in mind for possible school closings.
The list is 10 schools – four conventional schools and six charter schools
The four conventional schools are Carver and Northside High Schools – both on previous lists for possible closure – Messick Adult Center and Dunbar Elementary.
The adult center lost its state funding earlier this year and there's been a drop in the number of students there.
The charters are North Point – lower and middle -- Southern Avenue Middle Schools, Omni Prep Academy and KIPP Memphis Collegiate Middle School and KIPP Collegiate High School.
If all were to close, Hopson puts the savings to the district at $6 million to $8 million.
The KIPP Collegiate Middle School is at 230 Henry at the former Caldwell School in North Memphis. The high school is at 2110 Howell at the old Cypress Middle School.
Both are part of a system of nine KIPP charter schools in Memphis including four that are part of the state-run Achievement School District.
KIPP operates other charter schools in the buildings where the two schools on the closings list are located. So a decision by the board to close them would not mean KIPP would leave the buildings.
We emphasize these are possible closings as well as Hopson saying he’s not endorsing the school closings at this point. They are an option.

Meanwhile, Omni turns up in the Memphis Real Estate Recap. The charter just bought a church on Austin Peay Highway for $1.3 million that it plans to move into this summer.

Thursday at noon is the withdrawal deadline for those hoping to run on the Aug. 4 ballot. And as this goes up on the website, nobody has blinked. However, several contenders who made it in just a bit before the filing deadline a week ago came up short of the necessary 25 signatures on their qualifying petitions. The result is in the five school board races only one of the five incumbents seeking re-election has opposition in August. The others were effectively re-elected to new four-year terms at last week’s filing deadline.

When last we met, it was David Kustoff. Now we look at Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s bid to become the next Congressman from the 8th District.

The March residential real estate numbers are in from the Memphis Area Association of Realtors (MAAR) and Chandler Reports, the real estate information company that is part of The Daily News Publishing Co.
Home sales countywide up 4 percent from last year at this time – described as a dramatic jump in the number of sales. The homes sales revenue up 5 percent.
A MAAR board member says first-time homebuyers are coming back to the market but inventory is still a problem.
The Chandler numbers on the county mortgage market show a 3 percent increase in volume from a year ago in March.
Leaders of three mortgage lenders tell us their mortgage pipelines are at the highest levels in years and they attribute that to lower interest rates than forecast. The average mortgage amount actually got smaller in Shelby County.

Speaking of interest rates, here’s more on the Fed’s survey of the national economy.

View from the Hill from our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard is about the “bathroom bill” pending in the Tennessee Legislature and specifically how the votes line up in the Shelby County delegation on this and connected issues. The column also outlines another coalition of big-city mayors, including Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, who have come out against the bathroom bill – the second such coalition since Strickland and the mayors of Chattanooga and Knoxville made a committee room stand against the de-annexation bill.

PROPERTY SALES 38 38 12,796
MORTGAGES 27 27 8,030
BUILDING PERMITS 137 137 30,071
BANKRUPTCIES 44 44 6,108