Memphis school board approves deal to start class on time
MEMPHIS, Tenn (Reuters) - The Memphis Board of Education voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a financial compromise deal to allow city schools to start on time on August 8, averting a threatened delayed start.
The board had previously angered parents and teachers in the school district, Tennessee's largest, when it threatened to delay the start of school indefinitely until it received $55 million in city funds.
The compromise agreement, still subject to approval by the Memphis City Council, calls for the city to agree to approval of the proposed $884 million schools budget for 2011-2012 and a payment schedule that front loads the city's contribution.
The school system has approximately 103,500 students. Teachers will report to work on August 1, with students beginning classes a week later.
Negotiations between the school board, city council and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton reduced the amount needed to be paid immediately to $15 million by August 5 and a payment schedule for the balance.
The city council's education committee agreed to the deal last week and approval of the full council was expected next week.
Like other cities, Memphis is trimming city employees and payroll to cope with the recession. Council members earlier this year approved a $661 million city operating budget with 4.6 percent pay cuts for most employees.
The schools situation was complicated this year by the school board's decision in December to surrender its charter to force a merger of the city and nearby suburban Shelby County school systems. The outcome of that action depends on a federal court ruling that is expected within the next month.
(Reporting by John Branston; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)
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