Tennessee

SCS Superintendent Hopson on teacher pay raises next year: ‘My hope is that we’ll be able to give all of our teachers something’

PHOTO: Kyle Kurlick
Superintendent Dorsey Hopson has overseen Shelby County Schools since the 2013 merger of Memphis City Schools and the legacy Shelby County district.

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 [email protected] and (901) 730-4013.

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Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.