August 3, 2012

COLLIERVILLE, TN ( – They don’t slam dance in Collierville, but don’t get the wrong idea. There were plenty of people dancing in their minds on election night, once it became clear that the people of suburban Memphis wanted their municipalities to have their own school systems.

“Everyone won from the get go by going to the polls,” said State Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville), who is considered the architect of the municipal schools plan.

The Norris plan has generated a lot of controversy. Shelby County Commissioners are fighting the plan, saying it is unconstitutional. Federal Judge Samuel Mays is going to hear arguments on both sides of the issue next month.

Senator Norris isn’t concerned. “There are other hurdles to go through,” he says, “and I’m confident the court will continue to be judicious and just as the court has been so far.”

Norris is talking about the biggest hurdle ahead, of course, and it is the court hearing. It is the reason why Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner is taking things easy after the vote. Close to 90-percent of the voters in Collierville said they wanted the town to run its own school system.

“Our position is guarded optimism,” Joyner says. “Judge Samuel Mays has not made his ruling. He’s made it very plain and very clear that if the law is judged unconstitutional, he will throw the results out.”

Mayor Joyner also says voters might have been a bit confused in voting on both the municipal school districts and the sales tax increase.

In Millington, officials plan on appealing the election on the sales tax issue, which lost by just three votes. One way or the other, Joyner says, if you voted for the school districts, you were authorizing the communities to raise your taxes. “If you choose to form a municipal school district,” he says, “you are actually saying you’re willing to take a fifteen cent property tax increase. If you voted for both you said yes, we want a municipal school district and we’re going to fund it with a half cent increase in sales tax.”

The hearing on the plans constitutionality is scheduled for September 4th in Memphis.

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