New bills aim to pave the way for municipal schools
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -
Several bills filed on Thursday in the Tennessee state legislature, if passed, could pave the way for city school districts for the suburbs.
Three bills were filed. Each will apply to the entire state, not just Shelby County, which should end most of the legal barriers.
One bill allows for the creation of city school districts if all the requirements are met. The bill does not go into detail of what the requirements are, but those details can be added as the bill moves through the legislature. As it reads now, the bill applies statewide.
If details are added that narrow the bill to only apply to Shelby County, it will likely be struck down. That's why the judge in the municipal schools case threw out last year's municipal schools bill.
Another bill lifts the ban on special school districts. This could also be a path for municipal schools, to create special districts. It could also allow more than one city to join together for a special district.
A third bill says there can be seven school districts in a county with more than 25,000 people. Right now the limit is six districts. This is significant because six municipal districts plus Shelby County schools equals seven districts. So, it would allow all the suburbs to create a district.
Fox13 spoke with representative Curry Todd from Collierville over the phone who says these bills have support statewide. That's the hope of suburban leaders because a bill that applied statewide would remove the constitutionality problems that caused the federal judge in the schools case to rule against municipal schools.
Even if all these bills pass, the lawsuit would not likely be withdrawn though, the County is saying the separate municipal schools would re-segregate public schools in Shelby County.