New Bills Introduced to Allow Municipal Schools

New Bills Introduced to Allow Municipal Schools

Shelby County Republican legislators have filed bills which they say will clear the way for municipal schools.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Shelby County Republican legislators have filed bills which they say will clear the way for municipal schools.

State Senator Mark Norris and State Representative Curry Todd of Collierville introduced a new plan which will make municipal schools legal in Tennessee; they were banned in 1998.

Last year, Federal Judge Samuel Mays ruled that a portion of a new law allowing the schools was unconstitutional because it only dealt with Shelby County.

This new plan deals with the entire state. It removes all roadblocks for cities and towns like Bartlett, and five other Shelby County municipalities to start their own school systems.

Voters overwhelmingly approved the municipal school plan in the six suburbs last summer. If approved, it still would be too late for the communities to start their own systems in the next school year. And, it would more than likely mean more legal challenges, and more court hearings.

Judge Mays is still scheduled to hear complaints that municipal schools would create separate and unequal school systems because of the race of students. It's scheduled to start in several weeks.

Meanwhile, suburban residents of Memphis are ready to chop up the proposed Unified School District's budget. It will call for at least $145 million to balance it out.

School officials say their budget would mean the owner of a $150,000 home would end up paying an additional $370 a year in property taxes.

Wendy Turner of Bartlett says she's OK with that. "Well, I mean if it's going to help the school system and its going to better the schools, I'm all for that. But let's make sure the money is going for what they say it's going for," she said.

"Yeah, I'm ok with it. I mean, I'm already paying $2,700 in property taxes. What's another couple of hundred," added Bartlett resident T.J. Woods.

Members of the Unified School Board ought to name Wendy and T.J. the best taxpayers ever, because others weren't too happy about the whole thing.

"I don't like it," stated Kathy Bogue. "I think we pay enough in property taxes. And I think that schools waste money."

The Unified School Board and Shelby County Commission will meet again to discuss the proposed budget in two weeks.

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