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Teachers rally for pre-K at Shelby Co. Commission meeting

Published: Jun. 2, 2014 at 3:04 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2014 at 9:39 PM CDT
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© The special tax allowed the suburbs and rural residents to avoid having to pay then Memphis...
© The special tax allowed the suburbs and rural residents to avoid having to pay then Memphis City Schools a required money match.

(WMC) - The Shelby County Commission on Monday voted down a proposal to spend extra funds on pre-K and instead approved two dueling tax rates.

The pre-K proposal lost by one vote.

Moments after the commission voted for the tax cut, they passed another vote to keep the four-cent tax difference. In essence, the two votes appear to cancel each other out. Both votes stand for now, and the final decision will be sorted out during the third and final reading.

With this vote Memphians will continue to pay a $4.38 property tax rate, and people outside Memphis will continue paying a higher $4.42 because of a special deal cut in 2004 to fund the construction of Arlington High School through a rural school bond tax.

Mayor Mark Luttrell wanted to use $2.8 million from the rural school tax to give suburban and rural residents a tax cut. He said if the commission approved his proposal to lower the suburban and rural tax rate to $4.38, they might be more inclined to support pre-K funding in the future.

"We need to eliminate this dual tax rate," he said.

Commissioner Steve Mulroy wanted that money to restore 26 pre-K classes.

School teachers and others also voiced support for pre-K.

"Pre-K is a foundation for these children," said Rosemary Winters, a SCS teacher.

Keith Williams, Teachers Union President, said "this county has a responsibility to educate all children."

"We can't wait another year. That's 500 children," said Cordell Orrin with Stand for Children.

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