TN Senate Passes Norris School Merger Bill

On February 7, 2011, in News 2011, by Mark Norris

Mike “The Watchdog” Matthews,
February 7, 2011

(Nashville 2/7/2011) The Tennessee State Senate has approved a bill by Sen. Mark Norris. The bill sets up a transition process that would stop the Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools from merging for two and a half years after Memphis voters approve the surrender of the MCS charter.

The bill moves onto the House and would require the signature of Governor Bill Haslam

News Channel 3’s Tom Powell is in Nashville and will have a live report on News Channel 3 at 10.


• Behind the scenes discussions often “contentious”
• State Senate vote will set scene for actions by Memphis City Council
• Recent polls show most people would surrender charter in March referendum

(Memphis 2/7/2011) Is there anything more yawn inducing that reading stories about numbers.

Unless those numbers are attached to your favorite basketball team, who cares, right?

In this case, maybe you care, maybe you don’t.

But I’ve got some numbers for you when it comes to transferring the Memphis City School system to the Shelby County school system.

Both of them show the majority of people would vote in favor of surrendering the charter.

One poll shows 48 percent would say yes. Another says 56 percent.

Both show a lot of people are undecided. “It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody that a lot of people are undecided,” says pollster Brian Stephens of Caissa public strategy. He says the quick vote and the unanswered questions by all sides have led to the confusion.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the lobbying has been intense, difficult, and sometimes contentious.

“I went to Nashville last week,” says Memphis City School Board member Martavius Jones. Jones was the first school board member to suggest they surrender the charter. “The make-up of both the House and Senate Committees on Education are very different now,” he said. Republicans are now strong majorities in both chambers. “It is a very contentious issue.”

Memphis City Council members will be watching the actions of the General Assembly, because they are considering acting on their own.

A special meeting could be called for this week, where the council could vote to surrender the charter, and by doing that, the systems would automatically be merged, even without a vote by the people.


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