SCS starts budget discussions for next year, releases enrollment data

SCS starts budget discussion

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As Shelby County Schools prepares for a return to in-person classes this January, district leaders have started laying out priorities for next year’s budget.

As expected, the pandemic will impact the budget, which is expected to total over $1 billion.

The Shelby County Board of Education hosted a two-day workshop this weekend to start planning the district’s priorities for next year’s budget and to talk about how COVID-19 has impacted the district.

SCS Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray says dealing with COVID-19 remains the biggest challenge, especially as the district prepares for a January return.

SCS phased return to in-person learning start in January

“The safety of our students and staff and families continues to be our highest priority in every decision we make,” Ray said in his weekly update.

SCS says preparations for social distancing in schools, including personal protective equipment, transportation and staffing, must be part of the budget.

Other budget priorities include making sure every student continues to have access to a digital learning device and fall, summer, and Saturday learning academies to make up for lost instructional time due to COVID-19.

The district also released enrollment data Saturday.

SCS says there are 107,159 students enrolled this year. This includes non-charter and charter schools.

The district says that’s 775 students below its projections. It says average daily attendance is down 2.5% this year.

The state uses the average daily attendance to determine local school funding and a drop in enrollment could mean less money.

SCS says the state doesn’t pull this data until January and it expects the numbers to change.

Some districts and lawmakers have requested the state not reduce funding based on this year’s enrollment numbers.

As for budget talks, SCS says it will get input from a variety of stakeholders, including community members, in the coming weeks.

“The reprioritization of goals will be an ongoing discussion throughout this process as we adjust to our current landscape while anticipating the needs of the near future,” SCS said in a statement. “As priorities are developed, the District aims to prioritize strategies to enhance our literacy efforts, which would require state, county, city and community financial support to implement with fidelity.”

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