TN bills set to collide over school plans - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

TN bills set to collide over school plans

(WMC-TV) - In January, companion bills in the Tennessee House and Senate will collide with the plan to launch municipal schools in the Shelby County suburbs.

The end result: five suburbs could end up spending nearly $40 million to educate students outside their borders.

"It's kind of like my grandmother told me, ‘Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?'," said Shelby County School Board member David Pickler.

Pickler said this new municipal schools storm is heading to Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Lakeland, and Millington, when the state considers the concept of annexation by referendum.

Currently, every suburb except Germantown has reserve areas designated for future annexation and Pickler calculates up to 10,000 students live in those areas.

When the legislature resumes in January, lawmakers are expected to pass a bill that gives those reserve-area residents the right to opt out of annexation.

Next fall, the suburbs are planning to launch their own school districts, but they'll still be required to educate the students in their reserves.

"The referendum by annexation is only for those people living in that reserve area," Pickler warned.

Pickler said if the reserve-area residents have the option to get education services free, they'll have no motivation to agree to be annexed and pay an extra education tax.

"You could have a situation whereby those people who live in the reserve zone would be served by a municipal school, would not have to pay taxes for that municipal district and therefore would be in a situation where they could continue to receive education services without having to pay the taxes," Pickler explained.

He says this issue needs a full public airing.

To date, the issue has not been scheduled for public discussion by the school board or the municipalities.

To read the House bill, click here:

To read the Senate bill, click here:

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