Tennessee's largest school district is doing something different next year: more spending than belt-tightening. At least, that's what's projected for Shelby County Schools' new $945 million budget.
Memphis school teachers could get a 3 percent raise for a second straight year under the proposed spending plan touted as “investing more in people than in programs.”
Last year, Shelby County Schools made $50 million in cuts. This year, it’s $50 million more for classroom support, such as hiring school counselors, assistant principals, and interventionists for reading and math.
Each teacher would also get $150 for classroom supplies -- a $50 increase.
Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said that even though the district’s student enrollment continues to downsize, no teacher layoffs are planned for the next school year.
District officials also are watching the state legislature. A new tuition voucher law could redirect public school dollars to private education services. One bill specifically aimed at Memphis could cost Shelby County Schools up to $18 million annually, but likely wouldn’t affect the district until 2018, if passed.
However, the district’s budget assumes that vouchers will be approved and that an estimated 1,000 students will use them, costing the district $8.6 million.
Laura Faith Kebede is a reporter for Chalkbeat Tennessee.