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Mayor Names City’s Advisory Council on Education

March 12, 2012

Calling it “a golden opportunity” for the city, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr., today named the members of the city’s new Advisory Council on Education.

The group, which includes former Booker T. Washington principal Elsie Bailey and former Tennessee Commissioner of Education Dr. Jane Walters, will be charged with looking at what to do with the portion of the city’s budget that currently goes to Memphis City Schools (MCS) each year.

Mayor A C Wharton stands with Advisory Council on Education Co-Chairs Cato Johnson and Elsie Bailey.

Pursuant to a court ruling, the city’s obligation to fund MCS will end with the beginning of the 2013 school year, which is technically July 1, 2013.

“It’s rare that we get a chance to plan ahead like this,” said Mayor Wharton. “This is the first thing we are talking about doing when that obligation ends. We could plan for a new industrial park. We could plan for a lot of things, but let’s plan for the welfare of our children.”

The Mayor could not say how much funding the advisory council would be looking at; his plan is to first ask the City Council to lower the tax rate by the same amount that Shelby County raises its tax rate to pay for the full school funding obligation.

The advisory council will be looking at programs outside the classroom that could positively impact education. A recent study released on Books from Birth, for example, a program that gives Tennessee children one book a month from birth until their 5th birthday, said that it significantly and positively impacted what occurs later inside the classroom.

The members of the advisory council are Walters, Bailey, consultant Allie Prescott, Director of High School Initiatives Joyce Mitchell, Hazel’s Beauty Salon owner Hazel Moore, President and CEO of Stax Academy Kirk Whalum, retired NBA player Elliot Perry, United Way of the Mid-South Senior Vice President Regina Walker, Women’s Foundation Deputy Executive Director Shante Adair, Shelby County Head Start Executive Director John Lovelace, Memphis Tomorrow President and CEO Blair Taylor, Professor Reginald Leon Green, founder and CEO of EVS Corporation Gayle Rose, MEA Advocate Yvonne Acey, Urban Child Institute consultant Barbara Holden Nixon, Methodist Healthcare Senior Vice President Cato Johnson, founder, President and CEO of The Carter Malone Group Deidre Malone, City Council member Shea Flinn, City Council member Wanda Halbert, KIPP Academy Executive Director Jamal McCall, and First Tennessee Bank executive Jill Crocker.

The group’s first meeting will be April 9, 2012. They expect to bring something back to the Mayor by the fall.

“For the first time, Memphians have the opportunity to ask: What do our children need?” Mayor Wharton said.

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