MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - After weeks of talks about cutting education programs in a new unified school system, Memphis/Shelby County school board members voted Tuesday night to try a different approach: ask for more money instead.
Board members met Tuesday night for a special-called meeting to decide just how much they should ask the Shelby County Commission to pay for the new school system. The commission already pays more than $360 million.
Early in the meeting, the board heard a presentation from school staff that the Board should request $65 million. A vote on that amount failed.
Then, one board member suggested the board request $118 million.
"I'm not supporting the $118 [million], I'm not supporting the $225 [million], because I think it is more like $300 and some million, but we need to be telling them this is what we need, and then as a community we need to put skin in the game, put up or shut up, and decide what kind of system we want," said board member Tomeka Hart.
But several board members cautioned against asking too much, saying it could lead to huge tax increases.
"It is a good speaking point for the paper to print, yeah, ask them for $300 million, y'all can give me a round of applause, we will go home and smile - I don't think it is going to happen like that folks, I'm just being honest," said board member Mike Wissman.
In the end, the board voted to ask for an additional $145 million.
Board members won't have to wait long for an answer. They are scheduled to meet with county commissioners during a budget workshop on February 23rd.