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VOL. 132 | NO. 52 | Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hopson Proposes Balanced SCS Budget with $47M Turn-Around Effort

By Bill Dries

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Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson took a $945.2 million budget proposal to SCS board members Monday, March 1, that includes $47 million in additional funding for his new set of 19 “critical focus” schools and other school turnaround measures including a pay raise for teachers and hiring of more classroom interventionists and specialists.

The “critical focus” schools are schools that would otherwise be closed or consolidated with other schools.

The budget proposal is $23.1 million less than the current school system budget. That reflects partially a funding loss from an estimated loss of 900 students. There are also non recurring expenses the school system won’t have in the new fiscal year including investments in technology.

Hopson is also proposing to use $15 million in the school’s surplus or reserve fund which currently stands at $110 million to fund the broader school turnaround measures.

Those measures include “summer learning academies” with certified teachers at 20 schools starting this summer, $600,000 in retention bonuses to retain teachers at “critical focus” schools, the phased-in transition of East High School to a T-STEM school – a grades 9-12 optional school with a science, technology, engineering and math curriculum with an emphasis on transportation and logistics. Some of the measures are funded with grants.

The $47 million package represents a move by Hopson to go broader than the set of Innovation Zone schools that target the bottom five percent of schools in the state in terms of student achievement. Hopson’s goal is to reach SCS institutions in the bottom 10 percent and prevent slippage in student achievement gains at other schools.

The loss of 900 students in the new school year amounts to 94 fewer classroom teaching positions. But Hopson said Monday he is proposing that the school system not layoff any teachers. Instead teachers could become classroom interventionists. And 60 of the 94 classroom positions are already vacant.

The school system is hoping for a state budget amendment that would increase state funding to SCS by $9 million to a total of $485.3 million.

If the school voucher bill proposed by state Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown is approved, the school system estimates it would lose another 1,000 students in the school year that begins in August as well as $8.6 million.

Hopson hopes to have a vote on the budget by the school board in April and take the plan to the Shelby County Commission in May with approval by the commission before the July 1 start of the new fiscal year.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 57 57 1,266
MORTGAGES 48 48 964
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 10 10 161
BUILDING PERMITS 85 85 2,836
BANKRUPTCIES 34 34 652
BUSINESS LICENSES 10 10 286
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0