Haslam Talks Memphis-Shelby Schools Merger

Gov. Bill Haslam said Wednesday there could be a role for additional charter schools as the Memphis City Schools merge with the system in Shelby County.

On Tuesday, Memphis voters approved by a 2-to-1 margin dissolving the city schools system and consolidating it with the county schools.

Haslam has proposed a handful of policy changes to boost charter schools, including removing the cap on the number of charters granted in the state and creating an alternate path for charters to be approved — currently local school boards decide. He said about a half-dozen schools in the Memphis city system could be converted to charters through this alternate path, approved by a planned state apparatus called an achievement school district.

“There could be a role for additional charters to play,” Haslam said at a press conference at the Capitol.

Haslam said the vote creates an opportunity for innovation.

“We take this as a real opportunity to say in this discussion …. What’s the right way to run this system? What are all the different resources we can bring to bear?” he said. “And we hope to be an active participant in those discussions.”

The details of how the merger will be implemented are still murky, and legal challenges are likely.