Memphis City Schools, a failing inner-city district with 108,000 students and only 209 schools, plans to disband in order to merge with neighboring Shelby County Schools, MSNBC reports.
MCS first made headlines when the district surrendered its charter last November, a move approved by the City Council and by the city's voters in a referendum in March. The plan would bring more resources to the district, which predominately serves African-American and low-income families. It would also force the suburban Shelby County Schools, which serves predominately white, middle-class families, to absorb its students, according to the report.
While the debate began over an issue of funding, all eyes are now focused on the fairness of merging two districts with very different academic backgrounds, the article writes.
It also presents questions about the impact on the MCS community if the merger doesn’t happen.
The city district voted to disband after determining that a new Republican majority in the state legislature could pass legislation long sought by Shelby County Schools to create a special school district, said Martavius Jones, president of the Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners.
Such a district could create its own tax zone and potentially try to end its tax liability to the inner-city schools, he said.
That would have a disastrous impact on the Memphis district, Jones said, noting that the suburbs contribute about 49 percent of the county’s residential property tax base—which helps fund both school districts—while accounting for some 28 percent of the population.
A spokesperson for Shelby County Schools denied that such an action would take place, the report states.
A federal judge will make a final decision as to whether the merger will go forward and, if approved, when it will happen.