By Jane Roberts,
March 29, 2012

In a letter to the Shelby County school board Thursday, six local legislators, including Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, say they will not introduce bills or forward others this year that would interfere with how the unified school board decides to dispose of school buildings.

The letter is also signed by Rep. Curry Todd, Rep. Ron Lollar, Rep. Jim Coley, Rep. Steve McManus and Rep. Mark White.

“It pretty well says exactly what we mean,” said Lollar, R-Bartlett. “We are just trying to ease some troubled minds.”

School board chairman Billy Orgel says Norris has “consistently” told him he had no intention of introducing any facilities legislation this session.

“I am very pleased that lawmakers who have consistently told us they feel like we should handle this issue locally were willing to publicly state that and give our board the confidence now to go forth and deal with the issue to the benefit of everybody in Shelby County,” Orgel said.

Municipal leaders pressing to run their own school systems in the suburbs would have a difficult time doing it without access to school buildings in their areas.

On Wednesday, school board members met with suburban mayors or their representatives for an “open and frank discussion about school buildings, control of them and the capacity of each,” Orgel said.

“The reason we were able to discuss this in detail and intelligently is because both MCS and SCS put together a comprehensive study of the buildings and where the students were coming from to occupy them.”

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