Before I launch out for the my pregame meal(what I eat before I go to the SCS meeting), I wanted to share some thoughts about the relation between the county commission and the Shelby county school board and why I think the next 10 years are crucial decisions to the long-term sustainability of Shelby County.
Education and its related debt service(building, etc) make up 60% of the county tax rate. Roughly $2 goes to operations and .79 goes to deb service. That comes out to around $2.80(give or take a few cents) on the tax rate. And education is the one expense that continues to rise since 80% of the education budget is made up in salaries and benefits. Unfortunately, businesses are double taxed with a professional tax and a 40% property assessment while residents are stuck with a 25% assessment. This makes business investment and retainment almost impossible without pilots. With the completion if 385, access to Fayette, Tipton, and Marshall County will be as easy as ever.
Realistically, education is a controllable investment and expense. However, the new school board will need to map out a 10 year plan to design a new educational system that drives the tax rate down. Is that impossible? No..
My goal will be to partner with my colleagues and create a Strategic Education Planning Committee for Shelby County. The goal will be for this committee to be composed of the SCS Board, A Representative from the County Commission, the Memphis City Council, and every Municipality. The goal will be to review the best educational models(ones that are actually successful) and adopt those models district wide, develop a plan to fund capital(if needed), and a long-term sustainable funding plan that does not require tax increases.. As you can see, the SCS and County Commission are the biggest players in this discussion.
I have ideas and opinions. Does the size and breadth of the administrative structure of the SCS consume much-needed resources out of the school? I believe it does.. Does the continual need to invest in deferred maintenance and buildings fit into our long-term goals? I do not believe so. Can we divest into individual schools and break apart the massive federal, state, and local dragnet that we continually find ourselves in? I think so.. Can we eliminate most of the county bond debt by getting out of the school building business? i think we can.. Can we lower the business tax rate and eliminate most pilots? I think so.. Can we lower the county tax rate over time? I think so..The key is to divest into the schools. And our legislature has given us all of the tools to make it happen.
I believe that a route exists but we have to have willing partners on both sides to figure it out. That is why I plan to start the discussion here and then transition to the county commission to help see it through to a conclusion