Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed legislation this month to delay an attempt by the Memphis city school system to relinquish its charter and turn over control of the district to Shelby County.
Supporters of the merger say consolidation with the surrounding county would preserve the city schools’ funding in the event the county decides to seek special school district status, a move that would effectively prevent the city from expanding its tax base farther into the county. County officials fear a merger would overstretch their resources.
The Memphis school board agreed in December to let city voters decide in a March 8 special election whether their system—plagued by funding problems and low scores on mandatory tests—should relenquish its charter. The City Council voted unanimously to accept the decision, and early voting started in the city last week.
The new state law, however, requires a formal transition plan that would delay a merger for three years.
A version of this article appeared in the February 23, 2011 edition of Education Week as Tenn. Governor Signs Bill To Delay Memphis Merger