SCS superintendent explains what district did to prepare for new school year

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. -- As Shelby County students soak in their last weekend of summer, the district is making sure everything is in order.

Friday, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson sat down with WREG to talk about why he thinks the district is already off to a great start this school year.

"I feel very good where we are now," Hopson said.

He said as of Friday morning, 84 percent of students are registered.

"About five years ago, we used to register 70 percent of our kids on the first day of school," he said. "What that meant, people didn’t have the right schedules, the classes weren’t populated properly."

Preparations have been taking place for months. He said the district pumped $60 million into classrooms this year.

"Some of that was around supporting kids and their social-emotional needs. We hired more guidance counselors and behavioral specialists," said Hopson.

SCS also hired more school resource officers.

He said they went through special training to handle the worst-case scenario.

"Having officers present, you know, is sometimes a good deterrent and creates conditions where people feel more safe," he said.

Hopson said another priority was maintenance, especially since the past school year ended with five schools in five days cancelling class early due to air conditioning problems.

He told WREG the district spent $18 million this summer making repairs and installing new units.

"The reality is that we have a lot of deferred maintenance around a half billion dollars. A lot of our buildings are old and a lot of buildings weren't maintained the way they should have over decades," he said.

Hopson reports they also have 54 vacant teacher positions compared to around 200 this time last year.