Unified School Board Considers Budget Amid Protests of Closures

Unified School Board Considers Budget Amid Protests of Closures

Forget the scissors, when it comes to cutting the budget of the new Unified School System, the top administrator says you better grab the butcher knife.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Forget the scissors, when it comes to cutting the budget of the new Unified School System, the top administrator says you better grab the butcher knife.

The bleak forecast from interim superintendent Dorsey Hopson came Tuesday night as the 23-member school board considered the first budget for the unified Memphis/Shelby County school system.

The new $1.1 billion budget, coming in at 168 pages, includes a 26 percent cut to Central Office staffing, and the closure of several schools.

"I'm here to ask you to keep Westhaven elementary school open," said Kaylian Nicole Bowen.

The 8-year-old pleaded with school board members to save her school.

"We can learn more at Westhaven," Bowen said, "so we wouldn't have to go to another school."

Even after all the cuts, the board faces a $35 million shortfall. Board members will ask the Shelby County Commission to make up the difference.

"Memphis is a very poor city and we've got to find a way, to educate our children," said Unified Board Member Kenneth Whalum, Jr. "Because if we don't we will be investing in prisons."

Try explaining all that to an 8-year-old.

"Please pray before making this difficult decision, keep Westhaven open," Bowen said.

The school board is set to vote on this budget Thursday afternoon. The Shelby County Commission will then start deliberating on it sometime next week.
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