Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Millington pushes school board plans forward

Millington has seven school board candidates ready to run unopposed in November and a place to house them if municipal schools become a reality, members of a school transition committee heard at a meeting Tuesday night.

The city plans to house the new school board in a two-story building in need of minor renovations next to the Civic Center, committee member and Millington Alderman Mike Caruthers told about 20 people at the public meeting.

Caruthers also said the city procured temporary lodging for the school board in the old Chamber of Commerce building, which was in the process of becoming a quilt museum, until renovations to the other building are complete. The committee also discussed when to hire staff and how much to pay them.

A startup projection of approximately $200,000, based on figures from a feasibility study by Southern Educational Strategies, was delivered to the committee by former city finance director Bruce Rasmussen. The estimate includes salaries for board members, a new superintendent, an accountant and clerical personnel, as well as office equipment. "Go through the numbers," Rasmussen encouraged committee members, "and decide on what we need."

But despite the group's progress Tuesday night, there are still many unknowns that will affect Millington's plans for a new school system in coming weeks. The city is currently suing the Shelby County Election Commission over votes by Lucy residents in the Aug. 2 municipal schools sales tax referendum.

The sales tax option failed in Millington by three votes, and the feasibility study found that if a local sales tax was not implemented, Millington would need an 86-cent property tax increase to fund a new system. And next week, a hearing on the constitutionality of the August school referendums in the suburbs — all resulting in overwhelming support for municipal schools — will begin.

"By the end of September, we'll better know what direction we're going," said Caruthers. "We're putting a lot of work, effort, loss of sleep, into this. We need to make it happen or at least find out what's going on. "All we can do now is truck on."

Link to the Commercial Appeal

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