January, 4, 2012

MEMPHIS — As a half-dozen smaller cities around Memphis explore starting their own public school systems, there’s talk of forcing the city-county schools to turn over extra buildings to the cities.

No bill exists yet, according to The Commercial Appeal, but some suburban Shelby County state lawmakers are talking about introducing some in Nashville as the new legislative session begins this month.

Rep G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, said the effort is “well down the road.”

Senate Majority leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, said he had not seen a bill, but said one could emerge.

“To say ‘yes’ it will happen might give it too much weight. To say ‘no’ would be disingenuous,” Norris said.

Collierville, Germantown, Bartlett, Arlington, Lakeland and Millington have hired an education consultant to explore the feasibility of starting their own municipal schools.

The Memphis and Shelby County school systems are being combined.

Unified school board member Martavius Jones, the former Memphis City Schools board member who made the motion for the city school board to surrender its charter in November 2010, said city residents pay county taxes, too, and argues school buildings belong to all residents of the county.

“The part I have objected to the most is the expectation that the municipalities would get the buildings for free. If there is some type of payment plan, I don’t have any objection,” Jones said.

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