As the new city school board president, Freda Williams is the keel on a boat that is suddenly in new water.
The $90 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and $68.5 million in federal Race to the Top stimulus funds have focused national attention on Memphis schools.
At the same time, the school district awaits a state Supreme Court ruling on city funding of schools, and may face a possible referendum on who will pay for schools.
If the funding issue goes to the voters this fall, expect a campaign for funding led by the school board, Williams said.
“I think most people understand in order to reduce crime, we are going to have to invest in education,” she said. “You can pay now or pay later. It’s a lot less expensive to educate a child than to pay a year for a person in the criminal justice system.”