It appears the savings estimates by the commission planning the merger of Memphis and Shelby County Schools may have been greatly exaggerated. The Shelby County School Board was preparing for a $60 million deficit.
If the school system merged without making changes, there would be a $157 million deficit. So, Shelby County residents will face tough decisions in making cuts to local education or face a massive tax hike.
The working budget was presented to the community on Monday night. It includes closing five schools, cutting in-school staff by $20.4 million, and a 20% reduction in central office staff. It also includes outsourcing custodians and transportation.
Among the in-school staff on the chopping block are clerical positions, elementary art/music/pysical education teachers, librarians and bilingual staff members.
"Some of the TPC recommendations are hard recommendations, the outsourcing transportation, the outsourcing custodial. You've got some school staffing ratios to look at in there. Some adds here, some takes here," said Shelby County Schools' Superintendent John Aitken.
Despite the massive cuts, Shelby County tax payers still have a deficit of around $90-million, making a sizable property tax hike very likely.