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February 18, 2020
Good Morning Awesome Colleagues!

Last week, I had an opportunity to review our initial budget with School Board Members to ensure we are allocating dollars in the areas that will yield the highest return on investments for student outcomes.
Here’s a summary of what we discussed:
1) While revenues from our funding sources (federal, state, and local) have remained relatively stable, District expenses increased over the past few years and we used savings to make up the gap.

2) Having spent it, we don’t have savings like we once did, so we have to make cuts to right-size our spending: among other cuts, we’re projecting a 16 percent reduction in Central Office (largely including expenses not deemed to be mission-critical, along with an overall reduction of contracted services and eliminating vacant positions) and a 3 percent total impact across all direct-run and charter schools.

3) Our preliminary budget includes teacher pay increases, $19 million for College, Career and Technical Education, $49 million to support literacy and the 3rd Grade Commitment including early learning through Pre-K classes, $8.9 million for our academic transformational models, like the iZone, Empowerment Zone and Continuous Improvement Zone (CIZ), as well as other key academic initiatives. 
As in prior years when we used our savings to make up budget gaps, we will need additional revenues to meet the needs of all our students. Rest assured, we will be calling on our major funding bodies to increase financial resources for the District.
Please know that as we move from these preliminary discussions to the time when we present a final budget to our Board, and then the Shelby County Commission, I am committed to keeping you informed as we continue through this process.

Thank you for the work you do every day on behalf of our students and families. I appreciate you!
Dr. Joris M. Ray 
Shelby County Schools