Suburban Leaders Take Municipal Schools Fight to Nashville

Suburban Leaders Take Municipal Schools Fight to Nashville

Memphis city leaders don't like it when state lawmakers butt into their business, but Shelby County officials welcome it when it comes to the Unified School District. Officials from all six Shelby County suburbs met behind closed doors with lawmakers in Nashville this week, and they're asking parents not to lose hope.
BARTLETT, TN (abc24.com) - Memphis city leaders don't like it when state lawmakers butt into their business, but Shelby County officials welcome it when it comes to the Unified School District. Officials from all six Shelby County suburbs met behind closed doors with lawmakers in Nashville this week, and they're asking parents not to lose hope.

Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald says things look promising for Shelby County. The mayor believes the suburbs will have local control of their schools soon. In fact, he says a new bill will be filed as early as Friday.

Shari Russenberger wants to send her son to the best public school in Bartlett. But with all the talk about cutting gifted programs and firing teachers she doesn't think the Unified School District will be the best option for her son.

"I will be bluntly honest that if it comes down to it I’ll put him in a private school,” the Bartlett mother told ABC 24 News.

That's why Russenberger is happy to hear Mayor Keith McDonald is fighting for her and many others, making their voices heard in Nashville to change the laws.

"I hope that they'll have enough faith in us to just grind through this year while we're working on a solution,” said Mayor McDonald

“I'm excited about it, hopefully it works out,” said Russenberger.

"I don't think it's a situation without hope,” said a Bartlett father Greg Taylor.

Parents may want to hold on to that hope for another year.

"We know we don't have time to get it done for August 2013 so now we're shooting for something that would affect the 2014 school year,” stated Mayor McDonald.

The mayor says new legislation is on the way to lift the ban on creating municipal school districts statewide. It was ruled unconstitutional last year.

"A door closes, a window opens. We will find a way,” said Mayor McDonald.

And that's what parents want to hear.

"Bring some of that spirit back to Bartlett and build this community up and keep going,” said Taylor.

Mayor McDonald says the current law allows the suburbs to create their own charter schools if they wanted too but it would be costly.
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