The Commercial Appeal’s Zack McMillin does another fine job of reporting on the school controversy, this time explaining the elements of the agreement advanced by Shelby County Schools and Memphis City Schools board member Jeff Warren:

As the Memphis City Schools board prepares to consider a proposed stand down agreement with Shelby County Schools on Tuesday — one day before election officials are expected to set a referendum to dissolve MCS — two recent statements provide a framework for how differently people view its provisions.

“Hostile takeover,” was the term state Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, used to describe the Memphis push for what would be de facto schools consolidation by way of forcing Shelby County’s all-suburban school board to take over administrative control of those city students.

The other language came from Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, who said after seeing the bill Norris filed, “In order to have negotiations, you must have two parties. There is a difference between negotiating and dominating?

That Norris bill links the current right for Memphis voters to dissolve their special school district with another state statute that would in essence give the county’s suburban voters full veto power.

Norris and others in the county’s suburbs maintain that a vote on MCS’ future should involve non-city voters because combining the system’s approximately 105,000 students with SCS’ approximately 45,000 students is tantamount to a takeover.

Wharton and many in the city, even those who may be opposed to dissolving MCS, cite the city’s right to “self-determination” and state law that clearly puts the burden of public education of students on the county.

The agreement

One key MCS board member who supports Norris’ characterization is Dr. Jeff Warren, who strongly opposes dissolving the MCS special district. He said he “prays” the board will vote Tuesday to either accept the SCS proposal or send back a substantial counter-offer.

Warren, an Ivy League-educated primary care physician, is proud of what he calls the “reform agenda” that has won MCS national praise.

“I’m very frustrated and very saddened because we’ve got our system, in my opinion, poised to take off and become a model for education reform in this country,” Warren said.

But Warren admitted Friday he would be surprised if the MCS board approves adoption of the agreement. Doing so would require the board to rescind the Dec. 20 vote to seek a referendum of city voters; after lawsuits were filed, the Shelby County Election Commission agreed to set a date for the referendum and will meet Wednesday, with March 8 the most likely scenario.

Tomeka Hart, one of the key proponents of transferring administrative control to the county, describes the document as an example of “just more sheer arrogance” and a sense of entitlement from Memphis’ suburbs.

There are 10 provisions contained in the three-year agreement, some of them basic contract language between two parties. Among the most important:

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