SCS sends its largest-ever school budget to county commission

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$2.19 billion budget includes teacher pay raises and building renovations

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Schools district is making history by proposing the largest budget ever in hopes of improving your child’s education.

The $2.19 billion budget, an increase of almost 60 percent over last year, includes teacher pay raises and building renovations. It also needs the approval of the Shelby County Commission.

In what’s being called the largest budget request ever made by SCS, school board members gave their approval to a massive lifeline for education.

“These investments are critical to move the needle in public education. I think it’s going to take all of us to reach out to election representatives,” board member Kevin Woods said.

The budget would include five additional kindergaten classes throughout the district, new literacy programs, money for school renovations, and pay raises.

“I know it’s been a challenge for us to figure out how to keep our great teachers in those hard to staff areas,” Superintendent Joris Ray said.

To keep and attract new teachers, starting salaries would increase about 7 percent. Non-certified employees would get a 2 percent pay hike.

District officials said they are starting at a base salary increase from $45,965 and increasing to a max of $84,445. There is also a living wage increase in the budget to about $15 an hour.

To make these things happen, SCS is counting on the Shelby County Commission. 

Commissioner Van Turner says he realizes the impact the pandemic has had on SCS.

“We had to take the largest school district in the state completely virtual for 12 months. That means all the young people had to be equipped with laptops. Everyone had to have WIFI systems from their homes,” Turner said.

Altogether, SCS is requesting about $55 million from the county commission for school construction and renovations. Turner calls it an investment in children.

“I can see why the budget has grown because the need has grown, and that makes sense to me,” he said.

Commissioners are meeting Wednesday in committee to discuss the SCS budget proposal.

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