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All Memphis teachers could get a raise now that TNReady scores won’t affect their pay

Laura Faith Kebede/Chalkbeat

All teachers in Shelby County Schools would get a 3 percent raise next school year under revisions to the district’s proposed budget.

The Memphis district had originally planned to give raises to teachers with high evaluation scores, but a recent bill from state lawmakers sent district leaders back to the drawing board.

The switch will cost the school system about $3.5 million more than budgeted, said Lin Johnson, the district’s chief financial officer.

In reaction to consistent problems with the state’s online rollout of its standardized test, TNReady, state lawmakers last month banned districts from using teacher evaluation scores — which are partially based on student test results — for decisions about hiring, firing or compensation.

This is not the first time that issues with the state’s online testing process has caused Shelby County Schools to alter how they award teacher raises.

In 2016, a delay in state test scores prompted Superintendent Dorsey Hopson to postpone the district’s switch to a merit-based pay system. Last school year, another glitch in student test scores compromised some teacher evaluations, but Hopson assured teachers their pay would not be affected.

In other revisions to the district’s proposed budget for the 2018-19 school year, Johnson added money for student internships with the district, student resources for college testing preparation, and arts curriculums and materials.

The new items would cost the district about $10.8 million and bring the proposed budget to a little over $1 billion. Johnson said the district would use $36 million in its reserves (up from $25 million three weeks ago) and keep the intended ask to the Shelby County Board of Commissioners at about $13 million.

The school board is expected to vote on the proposed budget at its May 29 meeting and present the final budget to county commissioners on May 30.

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