SCS considering raising part-time wages to $15 an hour

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson is considering extending $15 minimum wage to the district's part-time employees.

Hopson hopes the district becomes a model for other employers to pay a living wage.

Roughly 40,000 SCS students live in households where the income is less than $10,000 per year.

Hopson said a significant number of those students' parents work for the district.

"When you start to talk about the suffocating poverty that we have in Memphis, making sure that our employees have living wages is huge," he said.

Earlier this month, Hopson announced the district will raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour for full-time employees.

Although it's less than a $2 increase for many, SCS Board Chair Shante Avant said it will make a difference.

"And I think we want our employees to know we believe in them, believe in what they're doing, how they support our district, how they take care of our kids--that's an important piece. That's what we want people to take away," Avant said.

But now there is talk of extending that raise to SCS's part-time employees.

About nine percent of employees are making less than $15 an hour--many of which are teachers' assistants and cafeteria workers.

"I think if we continue to push anti-poverty wages throughout the city to make sure that folks who are working--if you work all day, you shouldn't be poor," Hopson said.

The raise, Hopson said, is a way to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose primary fight was to ensure all had a living wage.

It's important to know the money for the raise won't come from tax dollars or other funds, rather re-arranging the budget.

Hopson still needs the school board's approval for the salary boost.

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