For the first time, Shelby County Schools teachers with high evaluation scores will receive pay increases.
In addition, Superintendent Joris Ray said the district’s promise to allocate a 3% pay raise to all teachers and licensed school professionals in the Memphis district will go into effect next month and be retroactive to the beginning of the school year.
“Teaching is a noble profession and I believe you should be compensated as such,” Ray said in an email to teachers Tuesday. Those making the minimum annual salary would go up to $37,080. Teachers receiving the maximum pay of $73,000 will receive a onetime 3% bonus of $2,190. Amounts for merit pay increases were not immediately available.
The district is currently in negotiations with Memphis-Shelby County Education Association and United Education Association of Shelby County for a new teacher agreement on issues such as working conditions and pay.
The 3% pay increase also applies to librarians, counselors, school-based instructional facilitators and teacher coaches, social workers, psychologists, ROTC instructors, and therapists. Ray also said employees will not see increases to health insurance premiums this year.
Teacher groups have long opposed merit pay — awarding pay raises based on annual evaluations, which are partly based on state test scores. But both major teacher associations in Memphis have advocated instead for annual increases based on years of experience in addition to merit pay. Ray’s announcement satisfies that request for the current school year, but does not guarantee it for future years.
Ray appeared to take aim at the district’s two teacher associations in comments to the public Tuesday evening as he announced the pay increases.
“I’m very ecstatic tonight to say teachers, [that] this administration and this superintendent and school board, we listen to you. I heard you. I visited schools with the school board every single day. This superintendent does not need proxy to speak directly to teachers,” he said during the meeting Tuesday. “We listen to teachers. So please don’t be alarmed by noise, rhetoric, and untruths.”
Former superintendent Dorsey Hopson, who left in January after nearly six years at the helm, had tried to institute merit pay for several years to incentivize increased test scores. But each year, online state test administration was rife with technical issues and Hopson delayed the implementation.
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