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County Commissioner Mike Ritz Comes Up With His Own Cost Estimates For Municipal Schools

Each of the six suburbs outside of Memphis is considering opening its own municipal school district, rather than join the merged Memphis and Shelby County School District in 2013. And they each hired consulting firm Southern Educational Strategies LLC to estimate how much that would cost. Now, Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz is questioning those estimates.

Senior Reporter for the Memphis Daily News Bill Dries says Ritz’s estimates are much higher than the consultant’s report.

“The percentages run from about 60 percent more to 400 percent more on the property tax rate,” Dries said.

Southern Educational Strategies LLC told the suburbs they wouldn’t have to pay for the school buildings within their borders. Ritz thinks they will.

Ritz’s estimate does not include special education costs or post-employment benefits for staff.

Neither estimate includes the cost of raising the pay rate for all teachers in the district to the rate Memphis is paying now. (Shelby County Schools teachers make slightly less but in a merged system all teachers will be paid at the higher rate.)

Suburban leaders plan to hold referendums on municipal school districts August 2.  

I love living in Memphis, but I'm not from the city. I grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I spent many hours at a highly tender age listening to NPR as my parents crisscrossed that city in their car, running errands. I don't amuse myself by musing about the purity of destiny, but I have seriously wondered how different my life would be if my parents preferred classic rock instead of Car Talk.