Memphis Suburbs Vote to Create New Districts

By Jaclyn Zubrzycki — July 17, 2013 2 min read

Residents of six suburban towns near Memphis have voted to create their own school districts, the Associated Press reports. The vote comes just weeks after the Memphis City Schools and Shelby County school district had officially merged into one 140,000-student system, in one of the largest school mergers in the nation’s history.

The new districts, in the towns of Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington, would all be within the boundaries of the former Shelby County school system. The Memphis Commercial Appeal describes supporters of the new districts celebrating with soft drinks after yesterday’s vote.

The new, merged school district came into existence on July 1 (you can read more about the merger and some of the issues that have come up in a recent Education Week story). Memphis voters set the merger into motion in 2011 due to financial concerns.

But the suburban municipalities have been planning to create new districts for more than a year. The towns voted last fall to create their own districts, but those votes were later invalidated by a federal judge. A new law passed this spring by the state’s legislature cleared the way for the new districts to be created and for this new round of votes. (The law potentially means that similar small districts could be created in other large Tennessee districts.)

Members of the merged district’s board say that planning for the merger led to more collaboration and conversation about how to improve the efficiency of the county’s schools within Memphis and in the county.

Using the merger as an opportunity to increase racial integration in the county’s schools was never on the table, said Martavius Jones, a member of the merged district’s board. But racial differences have haunted the conversation about the merged district, in this county with a long history of civil rights activism. The legacy Shelby County district’s population is overwhelmingly white, whereas the legacy Memphis City district is largely African-American. Advocates for the new suburban districts say that parents in those areas want to have local control of their schools.

Shelby County and Memphis City students will all attend the merged system for the coming 2013-14 school year. But it’s now likely that 2014-15 will see seven separate systems serving the county’s students.

Photo: In 2012, Germantown, Tenn., residents demonstrated their support for creating a “municipal district” so that the town could run its own schools rather than merge with the Memphis city schools.
--Kyle Kyrlick/The Commercial Appeal/AP-File

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Project Manager
United States
K12 Inc.
High School Permanent Substitute Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
MS STEM Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
Speech Therapist - Long Term Sub
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read