Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson reiterated to the public Tuesday that, contrary to rumors, he has no plans of laying off hundreds of teachers and administrators at schools set to be absorbed by breakaway municipal districts at the end of this schools year.
Six districts have threatened to leave the county’s school system. How teachers will be affected if their schools join a municipal district is an unresolved question.
” I know that rumors about potential staffing changes within our district have come up,” Hopson said in a letter addressed to the public and posted on the district’s Tumblr page. “So I want to be very clear that no such decisions or recommendations have been made. Shelby County Schools is absolutely committed to retaining a high-quality workforce, and we will do that with care and consideration.”
The letter echoed statements that Hopson made at Monday’s board meeting, when the board voted to approve a resolution that would allow the superintendent to lease several buildings to the municipalities. The resolution also allows the administration to begin planning to serve more than 1,000 students who live in Memphis but attend schools in the municipalities.
Board members devised the plan to cushion the financial blow that a separation between six municipalities and the county system would cause. Shelby administrators estimate they would lose at least $52 million if the six municipalities split next year. By holding on to the students, Shelby would also hold on to the per-pupil funding that follows them.
Hopson also said in the letter how the separation will play out hasn’t been determined, despite the board passing the resolution.
“We have proposed some recommendations regarding how best to serve our students, but no final decisions have been made. The board’s resolution simply allows the district and our school board to negotiate with municipal officials and engage with these communities about these decisions.”
As you probably know, suburban municipalities in Shelby County are in the process of electing their own school boards and planning for the formation of municipal school districts, beginning as early as the 2014-15 school year. We will be working very hard in the coming months to make sure the transition to municipal districts goes smoothly for all schools in our county.
However, I am aware that this process is raising some questions and causing some concerns among our workforce, and that it has the potential to take attention away from our primary goal of educating all students in Shelby County Schools throughout the remainder of this school year. To help prevent that, I would like to give you some facts that are certain and work with you to dispel any inaccuracies that may arise.
First, I know that rumors about potential staffing changes within our district have come up. So I want to be very clear that no such decisions or recommendations have been made. Shelby County Schools is absolutely committed to retaining a high-quality workforce, and we will do that with care and consideration.
Also, last night, our school board approved a resolution that allows our district to prepare for educating all Shelby County students who will not attend schools in a suburban, municipal school system. We have proposed some recommendations regarding how best to serve our students, but no final decisions have been made. The board’s resolution simply allows the district and our school board to negotiate with municipal officials and engage with these communities about these decisions.
There is still much to learn about how this process will unfold in the months ahead. I want to assure you that as we move forward, I am committed to providing facts directly to you in as timely a manner as I can regarding any potential changes. I also want to assure you that we will be very intentional about seeking input from our staff and school communities along the way.
As always, thank you for everything you do every day to make our schools great.
Dorsey E. Hopson, II Esq.