MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis-Shelby County Schools Superintendent Joris Ray delivered his third State of the District address on Wednesday, announcing the district would invest more in teachers and investigate a year-round school calendar.
“Studies show year-round school prevents the summer slide and bridges achievement gap,” he said.
During his presentation, Ray described year-round school as a series of short breaks.
“At the end of the day our research is loud and clear. I want to give our students more time in the classroom, more time to focus on literacy and math,” he said. “Our children are out of school for six to eight weeks, many of them they aren’t traveling. They are latch key children sitting at home.”
Ray also announced an $11 million investment into educators that includes a $1,500 retention bonus for teachers and teacher types.
Ray said he’ll only consider changing the school calendar if educators get a pay raise.
“Our teachers in the summertime often use that summer break to garner extra income,” he said. “That’s why I’m a big advocate for teacher pay.”
Dr. Ray did not give a timeline for when public conversations will start and when the calendar could potentially change.
The proposal is getting mixed reactions from parents and students.
“As a parent, a good thing. As an educator, an unsure thing but honestly, I think it’d really impact the learning loss,” said MSCS parent Tara Harris.
MSCS 11th grader Kaleb Sy said it could cut down mischievous behavior in the summertime.
“The best place for children to be is in the schools. so if we can just maximize that and minimize causalities out in Memphis then that’s what we have to do,” Sy said.
The MSCS district also unveiled a new logo, and initiatives to promote literacy and support new teachers.
The address was held at an East Memphis Hilton.
Ray’s address was preceded by nearly 45 minutes of musical programs and praise for Ray’s leadership from celebrities including Magic Johnson and Cedric the Entertainer, from local radio personality and master of ceremonies Stan Bell and from a district student council leader.
“What a historic moment it has been and continues to be,” Ray said, before a moment of silence for staff members who had died from COVID-19 during the pandemic.
You can watch the full State of the District address below.