In a few weeks, Shelby County School teachers will learn how much of a pay increase they can expect during the 2014-15 school year.

During and after Tuesday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson II attempted to quiet a rumor that the district was planning to reduce teacher pay.

“When I heard that, I didn’t know where that came from,” Hopson said.  “We want to build a compensation structure that rewards teachers who stay with Shelby County Schools, and also reward our effective teachers.”

Hopson said he will soon share the pay schedule for teachers with the local teachers’ association to review.  The SCS administration will make its general purpose and capital budget requests to the Shelby County Commission on May 7.   The commission holds its monthly meeting on May 12. SCS’s budget will be reviewed by the school board before a final approval is made.  The budget must be submitted to the Tennessee Department of Education by Aug. 1.

Hopson said it is the district’s goal to give all teachers something, referring to increase in pay.

“I think it’s very important in light of the fact that there was no (pay) increase at all last year, and in light of the fact that teachers are being asked to do more with less and are going to continue to be asked to do more with less so ideally we’ll come up with a structure that will reward all teachers with something,” he said.

Hopson said initially, the district planned on using the state-promised 2 percent cost of living increase to fund a differentiated pay schedule.  The district was counting on $9 million from the state, without it the district is left with $6.2 million.

Gov. Bill Haslam cut the state employee cost of living increase from the budget in April. 

Several teachers showed up for the board’s called meeting on April 22 to protest budget cuts.

Those teachers complained that the district’s budget calls to spend 22 percent less on teacher pay and 23 percent less on benefits next year. That compares to a 19 percent overall drop in budget cuts, advocates claim.

Susanne Jackson, a staff member of Memphis-Shelby County Education Association, said teachers would not be in favor of differentiated pay plan that relies on the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System.

TVAAS is a measurement of a teacher’s contribution to a students growth.  It can also predict a students expected level of achievement over a three to five-year period.

“Only 30 percent of the district’s teachers have individual TVAAS scores and 70 percent have to use the school’s score,” Jackson said.  “The TEM score is too volatile and not reliable.”

Jackson added that while the budget did include an increase in the district’s contribution to employee insurance, it does not equal a real investment for the district.

In prior years, employees received a 70 percent employer contribution to insurance.  After the merger of Memphis City and Shelby County Schools, employer contribution dropped to 63 percent.  Now that the budget is passed, SCS will offer 66 percent employer contribution to insurance.

Contact Tajuana Cheshier at tcheshier@chalkbeat.org and (901) 730-4013.

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