Schools consolidation blogging -- waiting on Shelby County Schools to make its move

Welcome back to MemphisNewsBlog.com. With the ruling by U.S. Dist. Court Judge Samuel 'Hardy' Mays on Monday, we're going to providing more frequent updates of developments related to the pending consolidation of Shelby County's public schools. Because we have actually read almost all the briefs and every line of the ruling, we'll use this blog as a way to provide more detailed analysis and reporting on the various legal issues Judge Mays' clarified in his ruling.

We'll get started with links to today's story looking ahead to a 3 p.m. meeting of the Shelby County Schools board. There, we will get our first strong sense of how the SCS board, led longtime chairman David Pickler, will respond to Judge Mays ruling that the current all-suburban makeup of the board is unconstitutional. Mays also ruled that the seven current incumbents have no constitutional right to finish out their terms. He's asked all the parties involved with the lawsuit to submit proposals by Friday for ways to "remedy" the unconstitutional board.

Most of the Memphis entities involved have indicated they will not appeal, but SCS has not given a signal one way or the other. City Council attorney Allan Wade is predicting SCS will appeal and give his firm yet more unexpected revenue while the case is considered by higher courts. "I assume Pickler and his group are still going to appeal no matter what happens," Wade said Monday. "They played it out this far, I think they will play it out farther. But maybe they will read the tea leaves and say it's a futile exercise."

What's interesting here is that the Shelby County Commission plan that SCS opposed, an appointed 25-member board, sought to preserve the current seven members. Doing so and giving Memphis proportional representation required adding 18 Memphians to the seven suburban incumbents to get to 25 members. In all, 191 people applied for those appointments; commissioners said they could still be considered if an eventual plan includes an interim process requiring appointments, and they also have submitted names to those officials who are putting together the 21-member Norris-Todd transition planning commission.

Clay Bailey also has a story today on mayors of municipalities outside of Memphis saying they want to go full-steam ahead with exploring ways to implement municipal districts in their cities. They make it pretty clear they prefer not to be part of a unified countywide school system. About which more later, in a post before we head to the SCS meeting.

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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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