Meeting tonight could decide fate of MCS charter surrender - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Meeting tonight could decide fate of MCS charter surrender

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MEMPHIS, TN -

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Tonight, the nine members of the Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners will have the power to put the fate of school consolidation in the hands of Memphis voters.

"I believe this is one of the great showdowns in Memphis political history," said Memphis Flyer political analyst Jackson Baker.

Baker said all that is Memphis and Shelby County will play out inside the Memphis City School Board room Monday.

"That will really galvanize and sum up and bring to a head all these sub-currents of racial and political and class tensions that have been in Shelby County all these years," said Baker.

Memphis City Schools Board Commissioners have a monumental vote on hand that could force the consolidation of city and county schools.

The war began when Shelby County Schools leaders began inching closer than ever to forming a special school district, which would sever ties with city schools.  Some City Schools Board Commissioners fired back with a proposal to surrender their charter so the county would have to absorb city schools.

"Last I heard, they had four votes to surrender the charter," said Baker.  "Maybe a fifth, depending on who you talk to."

The school board needs five votes to put the charter surrender up for referendum.  Memphis voters could then decide if schools could consolidate.

City residents traditionally support consolidation, while county residents have overwhelmingly voted against it.

"The number one boogeyman for all those folks was the schools," said Baker.

Baker said even if the referendum passes, it could all be in vain.

"You could have a special school district for those preexisting county schools and the city schools would be the county schools, but you'd still have two districts," said Baker.  "So you'd be right back where you started."

The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Memphis City School Board.

Extra security will reportedly be on site, and the Fire Marshall will keep a lookout to prevent overcapacity.

To read the resolution to surrender the MCS charter, click here.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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