Sparks fly at County Commission over size of Board of Education - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Sparks fly at County Commission over size of Board of Education

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

"Commissioner Chism can comment on his actions and what his motivations are. But, he is under no authority and does not know what's in my mind," said County Commissioner Heidi Shafer in a heated exchange on Wednesday.

Commissioner Sidney Chism retorted, "It's our baby. We should make sure that this baby get the proper nourishment and move on."

What led up to a spirited exchange between Commissioners Shafer and Chism was, for the most part, about one step above boring. Commission Chairman Mike Ritz introduced a resolution to enlarge the Shelby County Board of Education to 13 members in accordance with a decree issued by federal judge Hardy Mays in 2011. By September the unwieldy current 23 member Unified School Board would be relegated to the pages of history to be replaced by a seven member board. Ritz wants something more mirroring the redistricting pattern of the Commission's 13 members and 13 districts.

"To the extent that we do expand the school board, we would have to make the appointments to it until the next election. Which would be a partisan election for the school board would be August of 14," said Ritz.

Ritz noted the new board would consist of 9 city representatives and 4 from the suburbs and it would maintain the same racial makeup. But, suburban Republican Commissioners who compose the minority are with the majority of people who believe the current Unified School Board has soundly proven so far "bigger doesn't necessarily equate to better" when it comes to making decisions.

"Just considering the number of decisions they got to make and how tough those decisions are. It may be better for us to consider leaving the board at 7 than 13," said Commissioner Wyatt Bunker.

Commissioner Chris Thomas asked, "We've got seven that are going to be in place? Why mess that  up? Why change it?

Outspoken Commissioner Terry Roland echoed agreement, "And look. If anybody thinks that 13 folks can get along better, they need to look at this County Commission sometimes."

But, it was Shafer and Chism's ire that began to rise when the two butted heads over what was the big hurry to pass such a resolution with so much about the future of municipal school districts still floating in the air around Nashville. So, come on you two. Let's take it, outside!

 "It is a stall tactic. That's all it is. Power is conceived not distributed. I'll be responsible for putting a complexion on my actions," said Chism.

Shafer shot back, "I'm simply expressing decisions and espousing a little caution and maybe some forethought. Wouldn't that be great?"

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