Charter schools. It's an idea that's been floated from the very beginning, but never considered as an actual solution, but it could come up during mediation as an option that gives the suburbs the independence they want, and maintaining the single source funding the county wants.
The suburbs, the city, and the county are so far apart on the issue of municipal schools its hard to imagine a decision from the judge besides granting the schools or not.
But there could be compromise: Turning the suburban schools into charter schools.
Its an idea school board member David Pickler has said should be an option.
Here's what you'd get with suburban schools as charters:
Boards independent from the Shelby County School Board- a big perk for the suburbs.
Single source funding under the umbrella of the unified school board- a must have for the county commission.
That also eliminates the mandatory tax hike in the suburbs.
Plus, it eliminates the touchy issue of what happens to the school buildings that are located in the suburbs, but owned by the school board.
The Board of Education already has a procedure in place to lease buildings to charter organizations, but, the charter for suburban schools would still have to be authorized.
Right now that's the job of the Shelby County School Board, but it could eventually be the state's responsibility. Either way, Pickler says it could be a tough sell politically.
If the municipal district option were available for suburban communities, Pickler believes that will be the track they're going to run on. The people who live in suburban Shelby County have very little trust in the concept of what a large Memphis city slash Shelby County district would do.