MEMPHIS, TN - With two kids in Memphis City Schools, Gary Wilson showed up at a parents forum with Dr. Kriner Cash on Friday night, to get the superintendent's take on the school consolidation debate.
"Education is important," says Wilson, "very important. I'm real worried about consolidation, mighty concerned about it, because we don't know what the future holds for our children."
Wilson joined about 100 other parents, including dozens of Latino moms and dads who were brought from their childrens' schools by bus to the MCS Teaching and Learning Academy in Midtown.
Ricardo Urvina and his wife have four children, two in the district. They had no idea there is an effort to surrender the school system's charter until attending this meeting.
Through an interpreter, Urvina tells abc24.com, "I did not know about it, this is my first time hearing about it. That is why I'm here, because education for my children is the most important thing."
Superintendent Cash told the parents that with, or without a school merger, the hard work of educating the children and making MCS a world class school system will continue. Whether he'll be the one leading that charge, is another question.
"Whatever comes out at the end of this particular process," Dr. Cash tells abc24.com, "I'm here to serve. If the city and the community want to go in a different direction, they'll let me know in enough time, and I'll be fine."
Outside the meeting, reporters pressed Dr. Cash further for details about rumors he was job hunting while on vacation last week.
"Well, I think you should always be looking for Plan B and Plan C in this environment," he says. "Don't you think?"
Back inside the forum, Dr. Cash had his eye on the prize, and that's providing the best education possible for the city's 105,000 students and reassuring parents like Ricardo Urvina and Gary Wilson, who wonder what lies ahead for MCS and their children.
"It shows me he's interested," Wilson says of Superintendent Cash. "He's interested in wanting to meet with parents and let them know what's going on with MCS. Hopefully, we'll find out what the situation is."
Dr. Cash met earlier in the week with his principals and teachers. He'll meet with top staff members over the weekend to begin the budget planning process for the next school year.