MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Rest time is over for the Unified Memphis City and Shelby County School Board. It’s busy time. Nothing can stop time, they know it, and they know that by August of 2013 they’ve got to have a merged unified school system ready to go.
“We have no option other than that,” says board member David Pickler. “We’ve heard nothing said of anyone trying to go to Nashville to ask for more time. I think what we’re hearing from them is directed at us saying you’ve got to come together and figure out this situation among yourselves.”
Sink or swim. Nobody wants to sink, unless you like the idea of flailing your arms around and not doing anything. Some have said the Unified School Board has done nothing but flail and talk and not make decisions. Pickler says there is one big elephant in the room. Everybody knows it’s there, but they’re trying to make believe it’s not.
“If you’re building a system that’s going to accommodate 157,000 students,” he says, “it’s vastly different than a system that may be required to handle 120,000.”
The big elephant is the U.S. District Court. Everybody is waiting on a ruling from Judge Samuel Mays concerning whether the suburban schools plan is constitutional. The board is required to put together a new budget by next January. If the suburbs get their own systems, fewer students will be in the Unified system. If the ‘burbs are told their plan is unconstitutional, more students will be in the Unified School District, and more money will be needed.
“We’ve got to get a ruling from the judge well before January,” Pickler says. “There is simply no way the district can build any appropriate plan without understanding who are the students we will be serving, and are we going to be in the business of providing public education in suburban Shelby County?”