A $90 million shortfall is a lot for Shelby County taxpayers to wrap their heads around.
What's harder for them to wrap their heads around are the cuts the board is proposing to avoid this deficit. They say the $90 million shortfall, and what they call devastating cuts, could be avoided if the school board members actually put their heads together.
"Shelby County Schools worked very hard with less dollars than Memphis city schools did," says Lisa Parker, an elected Germantown School Board Member, "Now that they're unified, we thought that maybe they can work together to figure out what Shelby County did and how they worked, and then Memphis city schools learn a little bit in regards to how that all worked. I don't think this is happening. The two teams aren't playing well."
Parker listened to the meetings this week about the unified schools budget. She says she wasn't surprised to hear about the cuts but was surprised at what they were cutting. She says art, music and physical education teachers, librarians and custodians directly affect the students.
Parker, a product of the Memphis City School System says of past times in the school system, "We had a lot of volunteer help from parents. Well now we don't have that because you have parents that are both working. You dot have at home moms anymore. And so we don't have that base so we have to hire the people to come in to help."
Parker says if it was her school budget, she would have the board work from the district level down versus starting at elementary schools and working up with making cuts.
Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald agrees with Parker, saying that he's not surprised about the deficit. McDonald says he tried to warn the board that it would cost more. He says people always assume consolidating will cost less when it actually ends up costing more.