Memphis/ Politics & Govt
AI Assisted Icon
Published on June 19, 2024
Memphis-Shelby County Schools Superintendent Faces Contention Over District Job Cuts ProposalSource: Google Street View

Memphis-Shelby County Schools Superintendent Marie Feagins is amidst controversy as she seeks to solidify her job restructuring plan, which proposes cutting 1,100 positions within the district. As reported by ABC 24, Feagins' proposal has drawn a line between those who see the necessity of her actions and those who decry them. Despite calling for the necessary shake to bring Memphis schools up to a national standard, Feagins faces strong backlash.

The MSCS board, needing to approve the cuts, is grappling with a decision that weighs the future of education against immediate job losses. In her defense, Feagins stated, as per WREG, "I think as we think about overall where we’re going, it’s important to have the right leader in the right place at the right time". She emphasized the rehiring opportunity for those affected, revealing that 200 positions are currently vacant and available for application. Feagins suggested this maneuver could strategically position leaders where they are most needed, though what positions are cut remains undecided by the board.

Feagins has voiced her focus on redistributing funding towards enhancing math and reading literacy, bolstering infrastructure, and extending before and after school programs—an ambitious section of her plan that allots $14.6 million for busing students participating in late programs. This pivot is part of the bigger picture she envisions for the district, one where sacrifices now could mean educational prosperity later.

Questions remain as the June 30 deadline for the budget looms. MSCS general counsel Justin Bailey highlighted to the Commercial Appeal that no job cuts can go forward without the board's approval. Only then will the district be able to follow through on Feagins' plans. Wrangling with questions from the public and her administration, Feagins has maintained a confident front. She hopes for understanding and backing from the board as well as the community, as any decision made will undoubtedly ripple through the lives of many, particularly the staff directly impacted by the cuts.

As the vote nears, all eyes are on the board members, whose choices will influence the direction of the MSCS and the fate of the positions on the line. Retired MSCS teacher Judy Brown, expressing support for Feagins during the working board meeting as cited by the WREG, encapsulated the sensitivity of the impending decision: "It needs to get passed. We need not only just teachers, but we need parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, to come out and support us because these are your children. This is our future of Memphis."