COLLIERVILLE, TN (abc24.com) - After months of fights and debates, the voters in Germantown, Collierville, and the other municipalities want to start their own school systems.
For the last year, no single issue has been as debated, argued, appealed, hated, loved, or all of the above, as much as the Memphis City and Shelby County school merger.
Start on August 8, 2011, the day that federal Judge Samuel Mays said a law called Norris-Todd was legitimate, and that the city and county schools could merge.
"We have an opportunity to create a very good school system, and we don't get opportunities like this very often, so we have to seize the moment, said Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.
The story is sort of like an onion. Peel back the top layer, and there's another one, peel it back, there's another one.
It was just one day or so after the ruling that some of the suburban mayors started talking about what they could do.
Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald pondered, "There's all the stuff about what buildings we can build, can we buy them, the cost of infrastructure, the expense of running a school. We can do that with a little tax, but I think structure is the costly part."
It was inevitable. The critics of the merger plan said the quality of education would suffer. They called for the Memphis suburbs to start their own school systems.
The issue moved so quickly that when somebody said the suburbs should slow down, the response became one that will go down in history.
That train has left the station. That's what some suburban mayors told Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.
It has continued.
Even after the attorney general ruled that the planned referendum vote on municipal schools in May violated state law, the legislature approved a new bill allowing this election.
There are new developments concerning whether the bill allowing elections is constitutional, and concerns that the systems will set up racially separate and unequal school systems.
"Look, I'm not saying that every single supporter of municipal school systems is a racist; of course not," stated Steve Mulroy, Shelby County Commissioner. "But I think it would be naïve to deny undercurrents of race and class in this debate. And that is enough to make in unconstitutional."
Thursday's vote isn't the end, not even close.
Even though voters were overwhelmingly for it, that won't mean a hill of beans if Judge Samuel Hardy Mays says the law is unconstitutional.
"He says if it is unconstitutional he won't hesitate to void any results and stop anything from going forward, so that's kind of where we are," said Allan Wade, attorney for the Memphis City Council.
So when Judge Mays allowed this election to go forward there was no celebrating.
Unified School Board member David Pickler maintained, "We know there are still going to be hearings held, we've got to ensure this judge feels comfortable about the constitutionality of these statutes, but we do feel good."
The Shelby County Elections Commission predicted mass confusion if the vote was canceled, only proving later that they would provide all the mass confusion needed for an election all by themselves.
If everything goes as planned - and this year nothing has - the results will be counted and made official before Judge Mays makes his ruling on whether the law is constitutional.
"We think we'll be able to show that there are other counties that could fall within the classifications of the statute that are at issue and if we're successful in convincing the court of them then we should prevail," said Tom Cates, attorney for the municipalities.
On Tuesday, September 4th, lawyers will head to federal court to argue their points. They'll have two days to do it.
If the law is ruled constitutional the legal fight isn't over. In November, there will be another hearing to determine whether the municipal schools will set up racially separate and unequal schools.