Bartlett voters hit the polls for municipal schools, a second time | Schools
Bartlett voters will hit the polls Tuesday to cast their ballots, a second time, in an election that will decide the outcome regarding the creation of a municipal school system.
The community-led committee Better Bartlett Schools stood at a busy intersection as the election approached waving signs asking voters to check yes on their ballots.
Bartlett, along with five other satellite cities of Memphis, fought to create their own municipal school districts before Memphis City and Shelby County schools merged; a municipal district would allow a suburban area local control and accountability in their public schools.
The City of Bartlett started to consider school systems in 2011. They hired Southern Educational Strategies for a feasibility study on the possibility of creating its own school system.
Bartlett voted in favor of establishing local schools and the half-cent sales-tax increases to pay for them in an election last summer. As the taxes stayed, the school votes were thrown out after Judge Samuel Mays ruled that municipal school districts in Shelby County were unconstitutional.
"We have whatever it takes, said Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald around the time of the ruling. "We committed to this for the long run. If we don't get it by 2013, then we're looking at 2014 or whatever."
Mays' ruled the districts unconstitutional because creations of local schools only applied to Shelby County – and not the state of Tennessee. Gov. Bill Haslam signed two bills into law in April that lifted the ban on municipal schools in the state. That gave Shelby County's six suburbs the green light to create their own municipal school districts.
Since the law was redrafted and now applies to the entire state, rather than just a county, another vote is required.
A local political analyst says that Bartlett is expected to vote yes as before.
"We can have local control, and we as parents can be more interactive with school board, so our children get the very best education they deserve. It won’t be all about money, but all about the kids and our kids need us to be their voice," said Bartlett resident Erin Elliott Berry on Better Bartlett Schools' website.
Regardless if the referendum passes or fails, Bartlett students will be enrolled in the recently merged Shelby County Unified Schools district this upcoming school year.
The ballot question for Tuesday July, 16 reads as follows:
City of Bartlett
Shall the City of Bartlett create a municipal school system that shall meet the standards of adequacy established by applicable State law and regulation, which standards include raising and spending each year the required amount of local funds for the operation of the municipal school system that, for calculation purposes only, would at least be equal to the amount that would be raised through a fifteen cents ($.15) tax levy on each One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) of taxable property for each year if all such taxes were collected?
For a list of voting locations, click here.