A bill passed by the state legislature Monday is a win for proponents of municipal school districts here in Shelby County--a provision of the bill allows the suburbs outside of Memphis to hold referendums on whether or not they want to create their own, separate school districts this year. The rest of the bill is about school bullying.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with it,” said Senior Reporter for the Memphis Daily News Bill Dries.
Tacking unrelated amendments onto legislation is not an uncommon practice, but opponents of municipal school districts say this bill is county Republicans bullying the city of Memphis.
Senate Democratic leader Jim Kyle, of Memphis, said the amendment permitting the suburbs to vote on municipal districts is part of, “a growing tide of apartheid in Shelby County.”
Senate Republican leader Mark Norris, of Collierville, sponsored the bill and has said that he did it to help the Transition Planning Commission, which is charged with planning the merger of Memphis and Shelby County Schools..
Chairwoman of the Transition Planning Commission Barbara Prescott has said she does not view the legislation as helpful.
So far, the commission is planning for a countywide school system that would include approximately 150,000 students.
“So they are moving ahead as if there will not be municipal school districts,” Dries said.
“We do feel that burden and responsibility to be sure that in 2013, that if those students are still a part of this district, that they have a school,” Prescott said. But she also said she believes their plans can be flexible. “We know that we may need to make some alternations.”