|Shelby County Schools|
|160 S Hollywood St|
Shelby County, Tennessee, 38112-38114
|Superintendent||Dr. Joris M. Ray (2019)|
|School board||Shelby County Board Of Education|
|Schools||over 200 schools (2014)|
|Students and staff|
|Students||over 100,000 (2014)|
|Faculty||Memphis City Schools (dissolved)|
SCS served almost all schools in Shelby County while MCS served the whole entire City of Memphis. But Memphis City Schools served some schools in the unincorporated areas in Shelby County, Tennessee. Like Cordova High School, Kirby High School, Kate Bond Elementary School, and other schools.
Due to the city of Memphis dissolving its school charter in 2011, causing the end of Memphis City Schools (MCS), as of July 1, 2013 all Shelby County residents were served by SCS, including those in Memphis. Following passage of a state law lifting the ban on establishment of new school districts, the six incorporated suburbs in the county each voted in July 2013 to establish six independent municipal school districts. As a result, as of the start of the 2014 school year, the six incorporated cities in Shelby County (other than Memphis) are each served by separate school districts. After Shelby County Schools merged with Memphis City Schools. Almost all schools became an Shelby County School campus until they submitted their charter to another school district.
In August 2014 there were six municipal school districts known as Collierville Schools, Germantown Municipal Schools, Bartlett City Schools, Arlington Community Schools, Lakeland School System, and Millington Municipal Schools. Shelby County Schools serve the city of Memphis, Tennessee and unincorporated areas of Shelby County, Tennessee.
The Shelby County School District was developed in the late 19th century, after public schools were established in the county. Until July 1, 2013, it served residents of Shelby County, Tennessee. Shelby County established this school district in 1867. Shelby County Schools opened their first county schools beginning in January 1871. Most of them were located in Millington, Tennessee including their first county high school "Millington Central High School".
The City of Memphis made Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools two similar school districts until both school districts was merged in 2013, thus making SCS serves the whole entire City of Memphis and can also continue to serve Shelby County, Tennessee.
Over decades of development and change, the city of Memphis and Shelby County differed in their ability to support their school systems. By the 1990s, the state ranked as 45th in funding of public schools. The legislature passed the Education Improvement Act (EIA) in 1992 to improve funding of schools as well as election of board members and school management. Until 1996, Shelby County school board members had been appointed by the Shelby County Commission.
This arrangement was changed due to Tennessee's interpretation of its constitutional requirement that county officials, including school boards, be elected by all residents of the county, as well as elements of the state's Education Improvement Act of 1992, which addressed election of school boards. The Shelby County Commission established seven single-member districts to elect representatives to the school board; the districts represented the entire population of the county, although the city of Memphis at the time had its own school system and its residents were not served by the county system. The population of Memphis comprised more than 75% of the county's population in 1990, and would have dominated the school board with six of seven positions. (In 2013, Memphis has 70% of the county's population.)
Plaintiffs from the county, including the mayors of the six municipalities, objected under the Equal Protection Clause to having their system dominated by county residents who would not be served by the system. The US District Court, in a 1997 decision affirmed by the Appeals Court, ruled that the Constitution did not require all county residents to be included in a district that served only part of the county. As a result, the special election districts were redrawn to represent the area of Shelby County outside the city of Memphis, as this was the area served by the county school district.
In 2003, the Memphis City Schools Board of Education debates the tax cost within the Shelby County Schools Board of placing two county schools in the Memphis City School District. Kate Bond Elementary and Cordova High School were said to be zoned to Memphis City Schools beginning the 2003-04 school year, including Cordova Elementary and Cordova Middle School. Kate Bond Middle School remained in Shelby County Schools
On March 8, 2011, Memphis city residents voted to dissolve their school charter and disband Memphis City Schools, effectively merging the city with the Shelby County School District. The city had the authority to do this under state law, due to schools failing in the facility in the school district. The merger was to be implemented effective at the start of the 2013-14 school year.
Total enrollment in the county school system as of the 2010-2011 school year, was about 47,000 students, making the district the fourth largest in Tennessee. With the Memphis/Shelby County merger completed, the district received an addition of more than 100,000 students, making it the largest system in the state and one of the larger systems in the country.
In 2011 Sam Dillon of The New York Times concluded that although there was existing inequality between Shelby County Schools and Memphis City Schools, "nobody expects the demographics of schools to change much" as a result of the merger between the districts. He noted that "most students in both districts are assigned to neighborhood schools and housing tends to be segregated." Some white families expressed concern that the merger would provoke white flight from Shelby County, which has lost white population in the last decade.
Following the merger, the state legislature passed a law that lifted the statewide ban on forming new school districts; this was effectively for Shelby County only, as it limited new special school districts to only counties with populations over 900,000. Shelby County is the only one to meet that criterion. The six incorporated municipalities had elections in which voters chose to establish their own independent school districts. These elections were overturned in 2012 as the state law was held to be unconstitutional by the state court, as being written for a particular group of people and not the whole state. In 2013, the Tennessee General Assembly lifted the ban statewide. In July 2013, the six incorporated suburbs in Shelby County overwhelmingly voted again in favor of their own municipal schools and withdrew from the county system.
The county district is governed by a nine-member board of education. Board members represent nine special election districts in the Shelby County school district, which includes the city of Memphis but not the six suburban municipalities. These members are elected to four-year terms.
In 2015, the County district is led by its 24th superintendent, Dorsey Hopson, who replaced John Aitken (2009-2014). Aitken has been affiliated with the district since 1983, starting as a math teacher at Collierville Middle School. After nine years as a classroom teacher, he became assistant principal and later principal of Houston High School. The current superintendent is Dr. Joris M. Ray who was elected on April 30, 2019.
Aitken's predecessor, Dr. Bobby G. Webb, was superintendent from January 2002 until 2009. Previously he had served for 14 years as superintendent of public schools in Lauderdale County. He is the only superintendent to be recognized twice by the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents as Tennessee's Superintendent of the Year, having received that distinction in 1996 and 2001.
All of the "legacy" SCS schools in the school district are accredited. These particular schools meet the standards of the Tennessee State Department of Education and the accreditation standards of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The legacy Shelby County School District was the first large district in Tennessee to be accredited in its entirety by SACS.
The list of schools is of the former SCS district schools, and is therefore incomplete.
Note: Some areas within the Shelby County Schools coverage area were zoned to Memphis City Schools' Cordova High School (located in an unincorporated area and operated by Memphis City Schools) while being zoned to Shelby County Schools for elementary and middle schools.
For the 2013-2014 school year, the district will preserve existing dress codes in its schools. Those schools requiring student uniforms will continue the uniform programs, while those schools without uniforms will continue that practice. The board said that, after one year, any school could petition to change its dress code policy, but such changes would have to be followed for a minimum of four years.
The administration of Shelby County Schools is headquartered in Memphis. The Francis E. Coe Administration Building, the headquarters facility, was shared between the pre-merger Shelby County Schools and Memphis City Schools.
The building has two wings, and one had been used by each pre-merger district. As of 2013 the corridor linking the wings had double-locked doors, and the glass panels had been covered by particle boards. Irving Hamer, the deputy superintendent of Memphis City Schools, described the barrier as "our Berlin Wall."