Memphis-Shelby County Schools Superintendent delivers state of the district address

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) — Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS) Superintendent, Dr. Joris M. Ray, delivered his annual State of the District address on Wednesday.

In a room full of students, staff, administrators and community leaders, Memphis-Shelby County Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray provided an update on the state of the schools.

“We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go,” Ray said. “But know this, we will get there if we work together.”

Dr Ray acknowledged that the pandemic was making things difficult for teachers and students, but he celebrated their progress.

“We have administered nearly 12,000 vaccines to eligible adults and children at our district sites.”

Ray announced an investment of $11 million to provide $1,500 bonuses for teachers and “teacher types” and a $500 bonus for educational assistants.

The superintendent also launched the “Strategic Partners for Literacy” program, a new partnership that he says will ensure success in grade 3 literacy.

It comes as a report from the Tennessee Department of Education revealed that only 11% of students in Memphis-Shelby County schools scored on track or mastered state tests for the year. school year 2020-2021.

MSCS received an “H” grade, meaning it was rated harmless for the school year.

Ray thinks the pandemic played a major role in the low numbers.

“Our children have seen parents die, they have seen grandparents, aunts and uncles sick, some of our children being sick themselves. They saw classmates die, and I don’t think the 11% is a true indicator of how well our kids are doing. says Ray.

Other initiatives include expanding the Specialty Course for students in grades 7-12 who qualify, adding 750 Special Education Assistant (SEA) positions this school year, investing $5 million dollars from ESSER funding to install filtered water bottle filling stations, removing 99.3% of lead from drinking water and a new internship program called Power 1000 will employ 1,000 juniors and seniors.

The event concluded with the reveal of the new Memphis-Shelby County Schools logo, designed with input from students and staff.

Dr. Ray also mentioned that he would begin exploring year-round schooling for Memphis-Shelby County schools to give students more time in the classroom to focus on literacy and math.

As for next steps, Ray says he wants to speak to experts to start initial conversations.

To learn more about the state of the district address, click here.

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Daniel E. Murphy