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It’s a done deal. Hopson staying two more years, while budget advances for Memphis schools

From left: Shelby County Board of Education Chairman Chris Caldwell and Superintendent Dorsey Hopson
From left: Shelby County Board of Education Chairman Chris Caldwell and Superintendent Dorsey Hopson
Caroline Bauman

A proposed budget that would give Memphis teachers a raise and widen the scope of school turnaround work is headed to Shelby County commissioners for consideration.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson’s $985 million operations budget was approved unanimously Tuesday night by Shelby County’s Board of Education.

The board also awarded Hopson a two-year contract extension after hearing mostly support for the four-year superintendent during a public hearing earlier this month.

The proposed spending plan represents a first for Shelby County Schools, which started this year’s budget season without a shortfall for the first time since the consolidated district was created in 2013.

It allocates $300,000 each to 14 low-performing schools that the district says need a “critical focus” strategy. It also adds two schools, Sheffield Elementary and Raleigh Egypt Middle-High, to the Innovation Zone, the district’s turnaround program for low-performing schools. In addition, it catches up many teachers on the district’s step increase schedule and establishes a merit pay plan to give a 3 percent raise for high-performing teachers.

School board members have been generally supportive of Hopson’s spending plan, but some said the district should request more money.

“Ask for what we need and let them tell us no,” said Stephanie Love. “We should always ask for more. There’s always someone who could need a behavioral specialist…”

“I too am troubled we don’t ask for more,” said board Chairman Chris Caldwell. “This seems like bits and pieces of what we actually need.”

The county commission is scheduled to hear the district’s budget presentation June 21.

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