Will the 2011-2012 School Year Ever Start?

Will the budget issue get settled in time for the school year?

It’s almost back-to-school time! Well, not really.  For Memphis, when the school year will start remains to be seen.  On Tuesday night, the Memphis City Schools board voted to indefinitely delay the 2011-2012 school year.  The decision was made at an emergency meeting.

Board members want the city of Memphis to pay millions owed to the school system before they will let classes resume.  They stated that they have given the council many opportunities to pay the money owed and can no longer accept assurance that anything will change in the coming year.

Obviously, parents are worried.  With a seemingly insurmountable debt of $15.3 million, including what the city still owes for 2008-2009, they fear the implications this will have on their kids’ education.  Superintendent Kriner Cash received a letter on Monday from Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton stating that the City Council had set aside $55 million for the upcoming school year.  He elaborated that the schools would get money generated from an 18.68-cent tax levy “or the recently adopted 18 cents to pay school-related obligations. These additional funds should be addressed whenever the City Council meets to hear the MCS budget.” Wharton continued, saying that the city has $3 million on hand that wasn’t paid for the year that just finished that will be paid once the lawyers strike an agreement.

Given the struggling economy, Cash was directed last week to cut the $78 million from the current budget.  Cuts would come from the JROTC, string music and teen parenting programs, early childhood education and staff professional development as well as school security staff.

What will come of this? Stay tuned to the Commercial Appeal and wmctv.com for updates.

Photo credit: Cieleke

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