Thursday, August 14, 2008

The city, the charter, the schools

With a Memphis City Schools budget presentation to the City Council scheduled for this evening, school board and charter commission member Sharon Webb proposed — and then withdrew — a charter change that would have required the city to fund the school district.

In today's Charter Commission meeting, Webb presented a charter amendment that would have guaranteed Memphis City Schools at least 75 cents on every one hundred dollars of assessed property value.

After the City Council cut $66 million in funding to the school system in June, the district sued the city, arguing that it has a mandate to fund education under a state maintenance of effort clause. The city has argued that the maintenance of effort clause relates to the official local funding body, the county.

Webb said she wanted to give the citizens of Memphis the choice to fund Memphis City Schools.

"My rationale is that the children of the Memphis City Schools belong to Memphis city," Webb said. "From the abrupt decision made by the City Council, I really don't believe everybody understood the full impact of what happened."

In addition to Webb, charter commission members Willie Brooks and George Brown Jr. have both served on the school board.

Charter commission members Myron Lowery and Janis Fullilove, however, are currently members of the City Council.

"From what I understand, it's the responsibility of the county to fund education," Fullilove said. "I would vote no."

Brooks and Brown both mentioned how complex the issue of school funding was, Brown pointing out that today's meeting was the charter commission's second to last. Both seemed prepared to vote the measure down.

"As citizens of Memphis, we are providing tax support [for education], but its going through the county," Brooks pointed out.

"The last place we need to be talking abut school funding at this juncture is a charter commission meeting," Brown said.

After a brief recess, Webb withdrew her amendment, saying she would "just pray for the best."

The school board is scheduled to present budget information to the members of the City Council, the County Commission, and other elected officials tonight, 7 p.m., at Bridges.

1 comment:

Polar Donkey said...

How about those charter commission members and their plan for staggered elections. The only problem is that in 2011 everyone has to run for a 1 year term and turn around and run for a two year term. hahahaha so much for thinking that through.