School Board Looks to Turn Tax Breaks into Revenue

School Board Looks to Turn Tax Breaks into Revenue

Several Memphis companies got millions in tax breaks, but now one school board member is asking some of those companies to give that money to the schools. The plan is to use their cash to hire teachers, and everyone on the school board supports the idea.
MEMPHIS, TN ( - Robin Hood and corporate welfare are on a collision course. The fallout will be a hand up for a dozen schools that could close after next year. Northside High School is one of them.

"If they take that school away, you can say bye-bye to Klondike [Elementary School]," noted north Memphis resident Will Haynes.

But not before it gets an infusion of cash.

Every time a company gets a tax break from Memphis and Shelby County, public schools lose out. The plan is to ask companies to share the wealth, that way the school board can hire music teachers for Northside and the 11 other schools.

"I know beyond a shadow of a doubt music instruction will improve the academic achievement of the children," said school board member Kenneth Whalum, who came up with the idea. Just don't call him Robin Hood.

"In a sense it is that but it's not objectionable in any way," he said. "The corporate people that I talked to look forward to an opportunity to give back."

Bill Dye from north Memphis says it's long overdue. "Yes sir, I firmly believe in that… it's about time they pitch in."

Over the past seven years, companies received nearly $700 million worth of tax breaks and public schools lost out on more than $200 million.

The entire school board is behind this plan. The hope is that once companies get on board and start donating, they'll keep doing so even if the 12 schools are closed.

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