Aitken works through priorities as superintendent search continu - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Aitken works through priorities as superintendent search continues

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(WMC-TV) - In just six months the Memphis and Shelby County school merger commences, and a superintendent has yet to be chosen to take the helm.

"We've got to come together," said Shelby County Schools superintendent John Aitken.

Memphis superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash resigned January 31, and now interim Dorsey Hopson is keeping the seat warm.

That leaves Aitken as the only sitting superintendent in Shelby County.

He's currently carrying out the school Transition Steering Committee's recommendations for the school merger.

"They're bringing them to me, and we are bringing them as one voice to the board," said Aitken.

Aitken said the top priority is to create an operational and funding roadmap for the merged system, which is still incomplete.

"As the superintendent, it's my obligation to bring a budget to the board. This budget we're presenting now has got some challenges ahead, and some challenges I feel may have an impact of the classroom and eventually could impact kids," he said.

He's referring to the unified school system's $157 million budget gap.

"I'm a former high school principal. It hurts me to make recommendations that could possibly hurt kids. It does. We're not there yet, but there are some painful realities we have to face with the hand we've been dealt here," said Aitken.

Aitken's advice to parents in this time of flux is to listen and provide feedback.

The school board already missed the recommended fall 2012 deadline to hire a unified schools superintendent.

"Obviously, a superintendent search is still in the works. In the meantime, we've got a monumental task ahead of us. We've got to press on and make some decisions," said Aitken.

The Superintendent Search Ad Hoc Committee is working with the PROACT Search firm through March 30 to find a unified schools superintendent.

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