Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. Why did the Memphis City School board vote to surrender its Charter?
It was based mainly on the Shelby County Schools intent, as expressed by the Shelby County Schools president, to become a special school district. A 2008 University of Memphis study sponsored by MCS and SCS determined that if SCS became a special school district, MCS could lose substantial revenue leading to an unequal education for the city's poor and mostly minority students. So, the majority of the board members felt it was correct to surrender the city school charter since the county is legally responsible for providing a public education to all students in the county.
Q2. Is the Memphis City Schools board giving up on our students by surrendering the Charter?
Definitely not. The majority of Memphis City Schools board members believed that non-action by the board would have been giving up on the students. The board believed that by not challenging Shelby County Schools' desire to become a special school district with taxing authority, MCS could lose a tremendous amount funding for city students. So, the majority of the board believed that giving up the charter was the best way to stand up for our students.
Q3. What exactly are we voting on? What does it mean if residents vote "YES" or if they vote "NO"? If it's "YES" when would the merger take affect?"
The question reads "Shall the administration and control of the Memphis City Schools be transferred to Shelby County?" A "YES" vote means Shelby County Schools will have the legal obligation to operate all the schools that make up the Memphis City Schools. If a majority of voters vote "NO" the Board of Education for Memphis City Schools will continue to operate separately from the Shelby County Schools. Many educational, operational and legal issues would have to be addressed. The TN General Assembly recently passed a law that says if the voters approve the referendum, the school systems must develop a transition plan and the merger would not be effective until August, 2013. But that law may be challenged. So at this time it is impossible to determine when the merger would become effective.
Q4. What will happen to MCS teachers, MCS non-teacher employees and then what would happen to MCS' contracts if the systems are merged?
State law provides for the protection of teachers' rights including tenure, salary, sick leave and essentially all other privileges. Teachers would be the only employees whose employment rights would be guaranteed. As far as other MCS non-teacher employees, it would depend on the employees' classification. Administrative and other non-certificated employees work on a one year, implied contract. The one year contract expires on June 30. Any transition plan would likely include an analysis regarding administrative and non-certified employees. As far as MCS' contracts, this issue will likely be dealt with in whatever transition plan is adopted. Absent a transition plan, the likelihood is that the County Board of Education, having taken over MCS' functions, would be obligated to honor MCS contracts for some period of time. This would include all MCS collective bargaining agreements.
Q5. What happens to the $57 million that the City owes MCS and the Gates Foundation Grant if they merge? Plus, will the County be responsible for paying the $78 million dollars that the City of Memphis currently contributes to MCS?
The City is still obligated to pay the $57 million judgment regardless. Gates Foundation officials have indicated that they will continue to support the students in a merged system. The Shelby County Commission will be responsible for meeting "local maintenance of effort" for the newly consolidated system. The TN Commissioner of Education has told SCS that if a merger occurs, the Shelby County Commission will have 3 years to establish the maintenance of effort. The Shelby County Commission could reduce overall education funding, maintain the current level of funding without the $78 million, increase funding to include the $78 million or increase funding to any level.
Q6. If the schools merge, what will happen to optional schools, popular MCS programs and what will happen to the property that Memphis City Schools owns?
If the schools merge, it will be up to the new Board of Education to determine whether to continue optional school and other Memphis City Schools programs. Although SCS doesn't have optional schools, the optional school program, MCS alternative schools and other popular programs could continue in a merged system. Title to all property owned by Memphis City Schools would likely be transferred to the Shelby County School District.
Q7. Will City of Memphis residents' taxes go down if the referendum is approved? And would the county education tax rate go up?
It is not clear whether city taxes will go down. This depends on the actions of the City Mayor and the City Council and if they decide to pass any tax savings along to its residents. In 2008, the City Council cut the schools budget by over 60 million dollars but only reduced taxes by 18 million dollars. The city used most of the money it reduced from its schools contribution to fund other city expenses. So, Memphis residents could see a tax decrease, but if the city does not pass any savings to its residents, the tax rate may remain the same. As far as the county education tax rate, it depends as well. If the Commission were to increase its overall contribution for education, the county education tax rate could increase.
Q8. How does MCS lose money if SCS becomes a special school district?
If SCS becomes a special school district with taxing authority, it depends on how the special school district is done. One way, MCS could continue to receive funding from all county residents. But another way, MCS could lose property taxes generated outside the city and taxes for city residents would likely increase.More
"Just So You Know" Town Hall Meetings
- February 24, 2011
- Craigmont High School 6 PM - 8 PM
- February 25, 2011
- Whitehaven High School 6 PM - 8 PM
- March 1, 2011
- White Station High School 6 PM - 8 PM
- March 2, 2011
- Ridgeway High School 6 PM - 8 PM
- March 3, 2011
- Douglass High School 6 PM - 8 PM
- March 3, 2011
- Mitchell High School 6 PM - 8 PM
- March 7, 2011
- Melrose High School 6 PM - 8 PM