While so many Memphians were up late Tuesday watching the Grizzlies beat the Clippers, a much smaller group of citizens were up late for a different reason – Tuesday’s school board meeting.
The meeting featured some important moments in the move to consolidation in what was also one of the busiest days recently in the schools reformation. There was the board meeting and a hearing that morning in the consolidation case before Memphis Federal Court Judge Hardy Mays and then some comments by Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell at the Memphis Rotary Club on the subject as well.
You can read all about all of that in the links.
The Grizzlies got started at about 9:30 p.m. and finished at around 12:30 p.m. for a game of three hours.
The board got started at around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and finished at 11 p.m. clocking in at about five and a half hours.
Talk about grit and grind. However, the five and a half hours is about average for the school board which has long suffered from having a later meeting start time than any other elected body.
And at 23 members, the school board is the largest, only 10 seats smaller than the State Senate.
The school board also has a different tone to it than other elected bodies. The others have proclamations and honorary street renaming resolutions at the start of their meetings. The City Council and County Commission usually have gift bags with theirs.
The school board Tuesday evening had seven presentations that took a half hour total. They included honoring a choir, a dance team, an English as a Second Language instructor, a basketball team, several robotics teams, and new principals at Innovation Zone schools.
That was followed by 30 citizens who signed up for the part of the meeting where citizens can speak on any topic. That was about another half hour at one minute for each citizen.
Without much thought, it is easy to rip the board for putting this ahead of the items that have the most interest to the most people.
But the presentations and the occasional musical entertainment from the students is a reminder of what is at stake when the board gets to the decidedly non rhythmic business of contracts and resolutions and merger recommendations.
It is one thing to say, “It should be about the children.” And believe me, every one on every conceivable side of every issue even remotely touching on the merger has trotted that one out thousands of times since this all began in late 2010. It’s been used enough times that it has been drained of any specific meaning.
But the students standing with their teachers with their parents watching is the real power behind the much-abused slogan.