Municipal Schools

Yard signs urging suburban residents to create their own, separate municipal school districts, rather than send their children to a merged Memphis & Shelby County schools, poke from well-manicured lawns just outside the Memphis city limits. One sign reads simply, “Yes! Bartlett Schools.” Referendums are scheduled for August 2 in all six Shelby County suburbs.

Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz

Each of the six suburbs outside of Memphis is considering opening its own municipal school district, rather than join the merged Memphis and Shelby County School District in 2013. And they each hired consulting firm Southern Educational Strategies LLC to estimate how much that would cost. Now, Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz is questioning those estimates.

Senior Reporter for the Memphis Daily News Bill Dries says Ritz’s estimates are much higher than the consultant’s report.

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.

This week, the Behind the Headlines Radio Roundtable discusses the progress of a bill that could life the ban on new municipal school districts.

William McCaig has three kids in Shelby County Schools in Bartlett and he doesn’t want to see those schools merged with the Memphis City Schools. He wants—

“Local control,” McCaig said. And he’s willing to pay more taxes for it.

“Yes, property taxes or sales taxes,” McCaig said.

Vickie Keith doesn’t have any kids in Bartlett schools, but she’d also be willing to pay more taxes for a Bartlett school district.

“Absolutely. No problem,” Keith said.

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