Memphis Teachers in Limbo as Merger Deadline Approaches

Memphis Teachers in Limbo as Merger Deadline Approaches

300 local teachers have no idea where they're going to work this school year, according to the head of the Memphis teacher's union.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - 300 local teachers have no idea where they're going to work this school year, according to the head of the Memphis teacher's union.

Memphis City and Shelby County Schools officially merge July 1. Less than 30 days away from the deadline, educators are worried.

The 300 teachers are considered some of the best in the city. They've been told they'll have jobs; they don't know what kind of jobs and they don't know where the jobs are.

But one city says there are plenty of good jobs available… in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Schools are just big brick buildings without teachers. They are the chain on the education bicycle, and the chain is getting rusty.

"I don't work out in this area, but there's so much they have to get working on before the school season starts," noted teacher Candy Harris.

The man in charge of the city teachers union, Memphis Education Association President Keith Williams, says she's not kidding.

"They are working feverishly to get it done. But will everything be in place by July 1? I think not."

Things aren't looking good right now, Williams says. For example, 600 teachers were laid off. School officials say the best 300 will be rehired. Nobody knows what the jobs are, or where they are.

"We have a guarantee that those people will have positions by the end of this month and we are hopeful that will take place, because by our own evaluation system, we have some of the best performing teachers in the district who are now without assignments."

Come July 1st, the old Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools are supposed to be on the same computer system. It would make sense. But nothing in merger mania seems to make much sense.

"So it's very likely that for some time those systems will run parallel paths, as far as student services and all the informational systems, payroll and that kind of stuff."

It's this kind of environment that makes Memphis a popular spot for other cities looking for teachers.

"I saw where the Little Rock Public School System is recruiting in Memphis next week," said Williams. "I guess they heard; they're having a job fair here."

The school board will meet again next Tuesday to deal with more items that need to be taken care of before the merger. Board member Kenneth Whalum, Jr. said there is no way things will be ready, but the clock isn't stopping.

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