Laura Testino

Laura Testino

Reporter, Chalkbeat Tennessee

Laura Testino is a Chalkbeat Tennessee reporter based in Memphis, her home since 2019. Her love for the city grew through prior reporting experience covering education and general news for The Commercial Appeal newspaper. While a journalism and dance student at The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa piqued her interest in the ways education systems shape communities. A stint covering arts and culture in New Orleans at The Times-Picayune only made her more fond of Southern cities, and interested in the equity of their school systems. When she isn’t out reporting, she’s probably at the park with Rita, her Alabama dog adopted in New York City.

We asked the 20 candidates for Memphis school board to tell us about their approach to the district’s strategic and facilities plans, plus ways they’d direct improvements for academic outcomes and remove barriers to learning. Here’s what they said.

Although position cuts in Memphis have been expected all year, details were sparse until a meeting Tuesday where board members pushed back on how Superintendent Marie Feagins has communicated to staff.

Replacement plans remain unclear, as Feagins reorganizes schools based on their state letter grade.

The goal is for students and teachers to develop a richer understanding of Memphis’ pivotal role in American history, at a time when discussions of race are constrained by state law.

Maintenance projects for existing Memphis schools will take priority, Feagins says.

The increase could make open teaching positions more attractive, especially to staffers whose positions may be eliminated.

Feagins expects the board to approve the new plan in September, following the Aug. 1 election.

Tennessee lawmakers voted this week to approve the proposal, but it threatens to disrupt an existing contract between the university and Memphis-Shelby County Schools.

Century-old Humes was operated as a charter under the state’s unraveling Achievement School District.