To Merge or Not to Merge, That Is The Question

Attorney Steve Bennett... Photos by Barry West. Story and video by Samantha Watters

Attorney Steve Bennett… Photos by Barry West. Story and video by Samantha Watters

Manchester Mayor Lonnie Norman called a special meeting of the board of mayor and aldermen to meet at Westwood Middle School on Monday night. The reason for the meeting was to discuss the possibility of merging the Manchester city school system with the Coffee County school system.
Voters would have to approve such a change and that could take place this year or next. This merger would need to take place at the beginning of the county school’s fiscal year which is on July 1st, whether that is this year or the next.
One issue at hand is teacher’s salaries. Manchester teacher salaries are higher than the county so most likely Manchester teacher salaries would most likely be frozen until the two are equalized.
Attorney Scott Bennett speaking on behalf of the county school system said Dr. Ladonna McFall, director of the county schools does not plan to make changes within the first year. “We don’t yet know how to improve efficiency with the combined system”. Dr McFall feels that going in and making changes before they have an idea how the city school is run would be reckless.

Large crowd on hand at Monday's meeting.

Large crowd on hand at Monday’s meeting.

A lot of citizens are concerned about the bottom line cost. Bennett said it’s impossible to forecast future expenses, but according to approximate statistics based on 2013 data, the Manchester City School system spends $2,300 more in order to educate each student annually over what the Coffee County School system does. That means approximately $2.76 million dollars more is spent by city schools to educate their students annually. Of that difference, approximately $500,000 is made up of the higher teacher salaries in in the city school system.
Coaching positions were mentioned during last night’s meeting. A coach would not necessarily keep their coaching positions even if they were a tenured teacher because according to law that is up to the director of schools.
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