MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - There's another problem for the upcoming merger between Memphis City and Shelby County Schools. County School Superintendent John Aitken wants out. He is talking with members of the board to buy out his contract.
There's a very good chance the merged school system will open for business this August with an interim school superintendent. And there's a good chance Superintendent Aitken will leave his job with more than $380,000.
The merger between Memphis City and Shelby County Schools is a horror story that gets weirder and weirder as time goes by. In the latest chapter, Superintendent John Aitken wants to go.
School board member Martavius Jones said the news is unexpected. "I would consider Mr. Aitken to be the front-runner for the superintendent's job because he's the incumbent, and it's always hard to beat an incumbent," he said.
Jones said something pretty interesting just then. The general feeling among many is that John Aitken didn't have a chance to become superintendent of the Unified School System. Maybe he'd work for a year or so, but then they'd hire somebody else.
Well, the man in charge of the folks who will be doling out the dough for the school system says he's disappointed over this development.
"The community needs some continuity and some leadership with respect to these budget issues we've got, and he's the only leader we have left, I think, that can get us over the goal line the next few months," said Shelby County Commission Chairman Mike Ritz.
The news of Aitken looking for a buyout just sort of opened doors for Mike Ritz. This is just another example of a dysfunctional school board, he says. It brings confusion and uncertainty.
"We've got to bankroll this baby, and it's difficult to get confidence from the county commission and the school board when the school board is dysfunctional, and now we may be without a superintendent."
The board meets Tuesday, and it is expected they will at least begin discussions on the Aitken buyout request. Dr. Kriner Cash, former superintendent of Memphis City Schools, left last month.