February 2, 2011

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Shelby Delegation met Tuesday in the council chambers. The Representatives and Senators wanted community input on what’s about to begin in Nashville.

Wednesday, the fast tracked bill that deals with Shelby County and Memphis City Schools Merger, will be discussed in committee.

“The chance of us being able to do anything or to actually stop anything, it’s going to be like jumping in front of a moving train I’m afraid,” said State Senator Beverly Marrero.

Still, the Shelby Delegation wanted to get its finger on the pulse of what Memphians want. No Shelby County Republicans showed up to the meeting.

Senator Mark Norris and other Republicans are sponsoring the bill that would directly affect the consolidation. It’s unclear exactly what the bill will look like.

But, it could spell out a merger plan or allow Shelby County residents to vote on the merger. Right now, only Memphians can vote in the referendum.

State Representative Larry Miller said, “The one message that we are sending I think to Nashville that we’re unified, that we think the citizens of the city deserve the right to vote on that referendum.”

The state officials say it’s been made clear to them that this bill is being pushed through using special rules. So, a unified front across party lines is key to this fight.

“Virtually all members of the general assembly will listen to the local government officials on a matter that effects local government,” said State Senator Jim Kyle.

If state Republicans chose to ignore these local leaders, Shelby County Commissioner Sidney Chism says they can expect a legal battle, “There’s not any support for the bill they got in Nashville to try and interfere with Memphis and Shelby County self determination of where we want to be.”

State Senator Mark Norris released the following statement regarding his proposed bill:

I am pleased that the Commissioner of Education shares my concerns, and those of many Shelby County and Memphis City residents, regarding the attempt to transfer the administration of the Memphis City Schools to the Shelby County Board of Education without proper planning.

The Commissioner not only outlined his duty under state law as it relates to the transfer of teachers, but also made clear the myriad of other issues which must be addressed when transferring a system of this magnitude.

The bill I am moving forward with tomorrow mandates that we follow the roadmap that is outlined in the Commissioners letter. This is the point I have emphasized since December. No plan worth executing that will achieve positive results for educating all of our children can possibly be written or formulated by Feb. 15 or March 1. People are choosing to ignore the law. My legislation will call for a county wide, single majority vote.


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