Shelby County School Board's budget doesn't include new textbooks

SHELBY COUNTY, TN (WMC) - The Shelby County School system's billion dollar budget includes funding to beef up school security and improve mental health services for students.

But one important thing was left out: money for new textbooks.

The Shelby County School Board approved a $1.054 billion budget Tuesday night.

On Wednesday morning, they'll ask the Shelby County Commission for nearly $13 million more than last year to make the district's wish list a reality.

"We are here to advocate in the best interest of our students," said SCS board member Chris Caldwell. "If we don't ask for the money they need, we are not advocating in the best interest of our students."

The additional funding will be used to hire 30 new guidance counselors and 30 more school resource officers for the security division.

There's more than $11 million earmarked for teacher pay raises and another $8 million to revamp CTE, the Career and Technical Education Program.

What the billion dollar budget does not include, though, is $6 million to buy required new science books.

"A week ago, this administration brought to this body a need for textbooks," said SCS board member Kevin Woods.  "With that recommendation should have been a plan on how we were going to pay for it."

School board president Shante Avant and her fellow commissioners took Superintendent Dorsey Hopson and his staff to task for bringing the textbook funding request to them in the 11th hour.

"We've worked really hard to have a smooth budget process," said Avant, "and a week before the budget presentation to the county commission, I don't think it's appropriate for us to go back and say 'oh well, my bad.'"

"It shouldn't be this body up here debating," said Commissioner Woods. "We all know we need new textbooks. I expect the administration to look at those numbers and say this should be in this year's budget or we should advocate for $6 million. It's really not rocket science."

Supt. Hopson's staff will bring the board recommendations on where to find $6 million to buy the textbooks.  The district is already dipping into its savings, using $20 million to fund the billion dollar budget.

The superintendent and board members present their funding request to the Shelby County Commission at 8:55 a.m. on Wednesday.  The public is encouraged to show up and show support for the district.

Copyright 2018 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.