Shelby County Schools lays out proposed budget to county commission

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Schools leaders presented a proposed budget to the County Commission on Wednesday, looking for another $12.7 million for improvements to technical education, teacher compensation and new school resource officers, among other items.

The district signed off on the budget Tuesday.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said improvements to technical and career education were a big part of the request.

“We’re redesigning our CTE program so that kids are able to graduate from school and have evidence that they’re career ready with a work certificate, whether that’s an automotive mechanics, whether that’s in welding or plumbing, so I think that’s a big part of it. Obviously safety, improving our early literacy rate is a big part of the asking,” Hopson said after the morning presentation.

“I think we’ve invested $66 million directly in the classroom, whether it’s teacher raises or materials.”

Some general fund budget investments include $10.5 million for teacher compensation and bonuses, 30 new school resource officers, professional development to have at least one reading specialist in each elementary school. It also includes 35 new guidance counselors and 10 behavioral specialists.

The district also shared statistics with commissioners, saying more than 40,000 students, or 36 percent, live in a household with an income of less than $10,000 annually.

Hopson said, while it is encouraging many of their students soar, some need additional support.

“When you’re a kid and you show up and you haven’t eaten, you get up in the middle of the night and you move because you’ve been evicted, or your mom has been a victim of domestic violence or you’re constantly dodging bullets, those things take dollars to educate, so it’s not just a matter of give us more money,” he said.

Commissioner David Reaves heard the presentation and said he would like to see even more addressed in terms of vocational learning and more partnerships with the state.

“They’ve made a lot of investments in their budget, taken a lot out of their fund balance, which I ask every year as well, but a lot of it has to do with teachers’ raises and investments in some other areas of their school districts, so I think they’re worthy investments,” Reaves said.

“I’m not interested in increasing our tax rate to do it. So at this point I’m in favor of their budget as long as we don’t increase the mayor’s budget by any.”

The budget is not set, andstill needs to be approved by county commissioners. Where the money is going to come from is one issue to be worked out.

It’s expected to be finalized at the end of June.