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Classes for Memphis City Schools will not start this fall until the City Council deposits $55 million -- the amount the city has budgeted for schools from tax revenue -- in the district's account, school board members decided Tuesday night.
The board voted 8-1 to delay the start of the school year indefinitely, putting the system in the limelight as the district attempts to force city leaders to make good on funding promises.
"We've been patient; we've cut 1,500 jobs," said board member Tomeka Hart. "We're not going for everything. We're not saying give us everything you owe. We are just saying we have to have the money in the bank from our city so we can pay our bills.
City Council president Myron Lowery said several of the funding issues are tied up in court and therefore not negotiable right now.
"The council supplies less than 10 percent of almost a billion-dollar school budget," Lowery said. "They have voted to delay for having less than 10 percent in hand. That is ridiculous."
The district says the city has shorted it $151 million over four years, including $78.4 million for the 2011-12 school year.
The city has not approved the district’s budget, required by state law. The district is to submit its budget to the state by Aug. 1. School had been scheduled to start Aug. 8.