In a billion-dollar decision members of the unified school board met Wednesday for the second day of budget talks.
Tuesday's meeting was billed as a Q & A for members of the school board, but it was a small turnout. Only four of the 23 members of the board showed up while FOX13 News was there. But the discussion moved forward with those commissioners who were there.
MORE: Shelby County Schools proposed budget: http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/story/22238786/shelby-county-schools-proposed-budget
Interim Superintendent Dorsey Hopson announced a change to the budget. The proposal included money for construction (capital improvement funding) - $9 million for a gym at Millington High School, $10 million for renovations to the auditorium at Germantown High and more than $15 million to build a school in southeast Shelby County.
Those construction projects are going to be removed from the budget, but that won't solve the $35 million budget gap because that money has to be spent on buildings and infrastructure.
Still, board members say that money shouldn't be earmarked for schools that might leave the county system in a year.
"Both of these community's municipalities will be putting together a municipal school district," said board member Mary Anne Gibson. "It's important that we as a Shelby County school district be mindful of that and possibly delay any decisions on those capital improvements."
"What we have to do right now is, we have to educate 150,000 kids and we can't say, we can't ask what ifs too often "Neglect those kids that are going to be affected by the merged school system," added board member Kevin Woods. "So right now we have to educate all the kids so that's what we're concentrating on.'
Of course both school systems have their own ways of doing things. A big part of this budget is figuring out how to take the best of each system and merge them together. The administrators and board members call that harmonizing.
Board members brought up the issue of harmonizing sports programs and things like art and music programs. It does seem like the issue of municipal districts being established in the future is a factor that keeps coming up.
Thursday afternoon the board meets at 1 p.m. for the final debate over the budget. They're scheduled to debate the budget and vote to send it to the county commission.
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