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Mayors Wharton and Luttrell Present Plan for School Transition

January 4, 2011

Mayors A C Wharton and Mark Luttrell presented a potential transition plan today in case Memphis voters decide to rescind the Memphis City Schools (MCS) charter.

“Assuming the city surrendered its charter, we’re proposing things would stay in place” during a transition period, Luttrell said. “I think what we’re presenting today is a reasoned approach.”

Last month, members of the MCS school board voted to rescind the district’s charter. Memphis voters are scheduled to vote in a referendum on the issue in mid-February. Should they approve the measure, the district would be absorbed by the Shelby County Schools (SCS) system, but it is unclear exactly how that would happen.

Under the mayors’ plan, which would have to be approved by the state legislature, an appointed transition team would develop the details of consolidation after the charter vote.

“We’re not here to say pro or con,” Wharton said. “There are too many what ifs out there.”

While state law gives direction to districts who voluntarily agree to merge and could be used as a general roadmap, because of Memphis City Schools’ status as a special school district, the law does not specifically address how consolidation would happen.

The transition team would be chosen within 30 days of Memphis voters rescinding the charter. The team’s implementation plan would be expected within 120 days.

“We just want to ensure an orderly transition,” Wharton said. “The key thing is that there would be no interruption whatsoever. That’s what we are going to shoot for.”

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