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Harsh Words from Board Member on Looming School Merger

One of the most controversial members of the Unified School Board, Reverend Kenneth Whalum, says the board is working as quickly as it can, and argues the board's budget request isn't out of line. He also says a judge's efforts to push the merger to meet the August deadline could be devastating.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - One of the most controversial members of the Unified School Board, Reverend Kenneth Whalum, says the board is working as quickly as it can, and argues the board's budget request isn't out of line. He also says a judge's efforts to push the merger to meet the August deadline could be devastating.

Whalum says he asked for a court master to be appointed last year. So when all of those lawyers came walking out of federal court Monday, when they talked about what happened, he didn't react the way others would. "My initial reaction is, what took you so darn long."

Shelby County Commission Chairman Mike Ritz says there's no superintendent, there's a budget that is $145 million out of whack, and there are simply no plans. "They've created this problem themselves by not making the decisions," he said.

"I was so angry when I saw Mike Ritz saying well you know the school board did it, they created this mess," Whalum said. "What are you talking about? You're the Chairman of the County Commission. It's your job to educate all the children of Shelby County and you're assigning blame?"

Board member Martavius Jones admits things are moving slowly. "We can only approve what the administration brings to us."

On the budget, the school board says a budget where they will need an additional $145 million will do nicely. Commissioners say no way that's going to happen.

Reverend Whalum says he thinks the board should have asked for more money. "Here's my suggestion for the budget. Let's don't ask them for a dime. Let's don't ask for a penny. Let our request be zero dollars. Let the poor children of Memphis just fall into the river, man."

The school board is meeting Tuesday night. All suggestions for a possible court appointed master in this case must be submitted by Wednesday.

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