• Suburban mayors explore schools options


    Less than a week after Judge Samuel "Hardy" Mays, Jr., ruled the legislation to allow the formation of municipal schools in 2013 is unconstitutional, all six suburban mayors say the ruling stands for 2013, but it doesn't mean the goal has changed.

    The mayors met behind closed doors this morning, mapping out a plan and looking at all options.

    Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald said all of the mayors met to once again go over the ruling and look at what the next step might be and explore new options and ideas.

    As far as ideas, State Sen. Mark Norris was also at the meeting to make it very clear; there are still plenty of options on the table in terms of the suburbs having their own school districts.

    This is the first time all six suburban mayors have met since Judge Mays issued his ruling Nov. 27. Even with the approaching holidays, the mayors and attorneys will be meeting again to hash the issue out.

    Municipal schools won't happen in 2013, but the suburban mayors are gung-ho for 2014.

    "Right now what we're doing is preparing additional briefing," said County Commissioner Steve Mulroy, who adds that the county's legal team is focused on the piece of the Norris-Todd Law that Judge Mays has not yet ruled.

    "Whether that part of Norris-Todd that lifts the ban on municipal school districts passed in 2011, is also a violation of state constitution," he said.

    The outcome of that legal battle won't likely sway the mayors, or Sen. Norris, who say there's other alternatives to municipal schools too.

    "With what's being achieved with the Achievement District and charter districts, and virtual districts and whole host of things that have changed under state law since the ban on municipal districts was first put in place, but to explore all kinds of options with the Department of Education," Sen. Norris said.
    While briefs on the lingering Norris-Todd issue are expected in court just before the new year, the suburban mayors will likely hold a series of other meetings involving the re-do of the referendum and elections.

    Despite the setback of Judge Mays ruling, they are resolved on one thing: the mayors are moving forward to have their own school systems.

    They are also awaiting a ruling on one other legal challenge: to allow municipal school districts and whether the creation of those districts will lead to segregation.

    Judge Mays is expected to hand down a decision on this issue Jan. 3, 2013.

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