Merger process to accelerate this week

This morning we look ahead to what will be a pivotal week for schools consolidation, with the Shelby County Commission moving forward approve seven new school board districts covering the county and to identify finalists for those seats. Appointments to the Norris-Todd transition commission will also likely be finalized, and that board's composition, as the SCS board pointed out, may be even more important than that of the combined 23-member countywide school board a settlement agreement has set up to oversee both Memphis City Schools and Shelby County schools and manage the two-year transition process.
"I think we've got the potential for building a really solid transition team," Luttrell said Friday.
On Sunday, Jane Roberts explored how the commission plans to go about selecting its seven members. Although the combined board does not take over until Oct. 1, the commission wants to have its members chosen and ready to go before then.
"We are looking for people who've got some skin in the game -- either children or grandchildren in the public schools -- and something to offer besides political acumen of some kind," said County Commissioner Mike Ritz.
Also on Sunday, Wendi Thomas worked through her incredulous reaction to SCS board chairman David Pickler's pivot from vehemently opposing consolidating Memphis and suburban students into one system to an advocate for embracing the "opportunity" to come together and build a "world class" system.
Those who always believed what Pickler now claims he believes -- that the merger is a historic chance to create a new educational model -- may find it hard to stomach this about-face. That said, Pickler must be allowed to reverse course. How can mature adults hope for change if we cement people in their original stance, barring them from opportunities to grow, evolve, learn and change their minds?

And on Saturday, SCS Supt. John Aitken talked to us about his meeting with MCS Supt. Kriner Cash to formulate a plan for getting staff to start the hard work of figuring out how to combine operations of the two systems.
"It was really an informal get together," Aitken said. "We got our calendars together, outlined next steps, what we need to hit first, second, third and get the departments together on it."


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As the process for merging Shelby County's schools accelerates into action, we'll provide bonus coverage here at www.MemphisNewsBlog.com, with a particular focus on the 21-member transition team and the 23-member unified school board. Comment early and often. If you have any tips or suggestions you wish to share, contact Zack McMillin at zmcmillin@commercialappeal.com or 529-2564.

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