Germantown voters hit the polls for municipal schools, a second time | Schools
Germantown 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 systems.
The yellow "Vote Yes" yard signs are back in place across Germantown. Many have not been pulled up since the satellite cities of Memphis initially put local schools up for a vote in early 2012.
Germantown, along with five other municipalities, fought to create their own municipal school districts before Memphis City and Shelby County schools merged. Germantown spent more than $70,000 for a study by Southern Educational Strategies which found that Germantown met the legal, operational and fiscal thresholds to establish its own independent school district.
A group of residents behind My Germantown Schools say they want their own municipal districts because it would allow suburban areas local control and accountability in their public schools.
All six municipalities voted in favor of establishing local schools in an election last summer. With the exception of Millington, all municipalities also voted for the half-cent sales-tax increases to pay for the schools. As the taxes stayed, Judge Samuel Mays ruled municipal school districts in Shelby County were unconstitutional – which threw out those votes.
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 Germantown is expected to vote yes as before.
At a recent rally encouraging residents to vote yes for municipal schools in Germantown, current Shelby County Board of Education commissioner Mary Anne Gibson said municipal schools are about preservation.
"We've got to fix this," she added. "I want my children to be able to come back here from their time in other parts of the world, and I want them to come back and raise their families."
Regardless if the referendum passes or fails, Germantown 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 GERMANTOWN
Shall the City of Gemantown be authorized to 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.