MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Suburban Shelby County mayors are predicting a future exodus from the area because of the merging of Memphis and Shelby County Schools. If the 'burbs can't start their own systems, local mayors say people will let their feet do the talking.
Arlington Mayor Mike Wissman says it's critical that the cities and towns get to run their own systems, or it's 'see ya later folks.'
In Germantown, the front lawns do the talking. "Vote Yes" the signs say, even though the May referendum vote on whether Germantown should start its own school system isn't going to happen.
But the signs stay, as do the feelings.
There is no more emotional issue in Shelby County right now than the school merger. It's an issue that leads some people to say if the schools are merged and if the suburbs don't get their own schools, then people will leave.
Mayors are worried about this potential tidal wave of families and tax dollars fleeing Shelby County; there's history, after all.
When mandatory busing started in Memphis, thousands of people moved away. Caroline Luttrell was a city school teacher when that happened.
"We had a lot of people who left the city schools," she said. "I taught in the inner city, so I'm not sure what the answer is, but we've got to do something to educate these children."
Everybody is in agreement on that. We've got to educate the children; we've got to do what will be best for the children.
East Memphis parent Kelly Clark says when the school systems merge, "We'd probably have to go the private school route. We're in East Memphis right now and that's probably the route we'd have to go to now."
Private schools almost didn't exist in Memphis and Shelby County before court-ordered school busing. They are going to probably grow again since it would be less expensive than to move.