For Goodness Sake – Let’s put the school buildings issue to bed

It has been a long almost 2 years living as one of 23 board members. Now, that the merger of the districts are complete, I would really like to focus on BETTER education for all of Shelby County. I think there are lots of great ideas to be explored that focuses less on reform and more on redesigning some of our educational programs.

However, we have this continual cloud hanging over our heads in terms of buildings and how they are dealt with municipal school districts.Yesterday, the news(by way of Melvin Burgess) brought up some stink over OPEB and if the liability should be broken up over the district.

There are a couple of statements to be made here because I have heard Martavious Jones use this mine vs. yours language before.

There are some who believe that this process should be treated like a divorce. In a divorce settlement a judge and attorneys mediate who gets what. I have heard over and over again a desire from some leaders in Memphis that you split the baby. Muni-districts buy buildings and take their share of accumulated opeb liability.

However, the unfortunate fallacy of that argument rears its head in go-forward funding for the SCS district. If you make an MSD pay for buildings and assume liability for opeb, you have created a pretty good case for them to no longer pay into the county tax rate for county education. This would be a disaster for county school funding.

Then there are some(like me) who believes that collaborative government rules the day. That means that we agree that all of the taxpayers up to this point have invested tax dollars for the good of all children. And that going forward, we will continue to do so. Maximizing idle resources and infrastructure makes the most sense to get the most out of a county tax dollar. That means that we share things like IT, Nutrition, SPED services, and BUILDINGS..

The reality is that we should work together. We have not done that with charter schools by not allowing access to the buildings for free and now they are going to the ASD (achievement school district) and getting them for nothing. In the near future, we will deal with buildings for charter, ASD, and whether we like it or not municipals. I do not believe that we can split them.

It really is about putting the politics of education behind and quit squabbling about money. Theses solutions are not hard. There are just many hard heads.


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