Greater Memphis reacts to the school merger settlement

On August 24, 2011, in News 2011, by Mark Norris

Commercial Appeal
August 24, 2011

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell: “I do think the 23-member board is sizable, maybe too big, but we can still look at that as a way to move through the transition and move to a more permanent board and if that will help us avoid the appeals, I think it’s a step well-taken.”

State Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville: “As I said from the beginning, unification without unity defeats its purpose and you’ve got to have unity and a plan. They’re telling us with this that they have unity. We’ll have to see what their plan is.”

Dick Vosburg, advocate for the group My Germantown Schools, which favors a separate school system for Germantown: “It is good they have found some resolution to that problem (of governance). We believe local control is the right answer. We believe a smaller entity that is closer to parents, students and the taxpayers is going to be more efficient.”

Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner: “Collierville is looking at all its options. We wanted to have a seat at the table in the merged system. We would also consider a special school district at the end of the moratorium. It could be a school district that is made up of all Shelby County schools outside Memphis or one that is just in Collierville.”

Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald: “I don’t have a lot of details, but it sounds like a lot of people (on the new board). I need clarification on this before I have any other comment.”

Memphis City Schools board member Tomeka Hart: “I think this is a solution that answers the questions about the constitutionality of the current Shelby County Schools board, the ability of the county board members to keep their seats and the ability of the County Commission to appoint members.”

MCS board member Dr. Jeff Warren: “I think what we have to do now as a community is make this work for all the kids.”

MCS board member Betty Mallott: “I think that the agreement shows tremendous wisdom and fairness on the part of the judge and the parties involved.”

MCS board chairman Martavius Jones: “This was a long, arduous task for us to get where we are. If we keep this going, we can do great things with the process.”

MCS board member Kenneth Whalum: “(The task facing the new board is) daunting in its scope and intensity, especially with both systems maintaining their operational autonomy in the meantime.”

Shelby County Schools board chairman David Pickler: “We’ve said for weeks that we sought an equitable solution to the matter. I believe that’s exactly what we have obtained.”

SCS Supt. John Aitken: “I’m happy we’ve reached a settlement. There are some questions about the logistics of it all and how it’s going to work, with day-to-day operations of each system coming before a 23-member board.”

Shelby County Commissioner Walter Bailey: “We have reached a tentative agreement. … Our presence here indicates unity.”

Memphis City Council member Shea Flinn: “In a country where it seemed like compromise was dead, in Memphis and Shelby County compromise is not dead. It’s very much alive and if we keep this going we can do great things with this process. This is a great first step.”

State Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville: “I just don’t agree with the County Commission appointing seven members. Norris-Todd was set up to leave the city school board and county school board in place while the 21-member transition planning commission decided how to set up the new countywide school system.”

State Rep. Ron Lollar, R-Bartlett: “Hopefully this will give some degree of compliance with the Norris-Todd law and we’ll see where it goes from there, and see what the feeling is toward the planning process as a viable answer to the overall problem.”

With submissions from staff reporters Clay Bailey, Jody Callahan, Daniel Connolly, Lela Garlington, Richard Locker, Zack McMillin, Jane Roberts and Cindy Wolff.

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