Before the regularly scheduled school board session, a facilities meeting was called to discuss the title transfer of the East Ridge High School Athletics Complex to the City of East Ridge. Additionally, at the request of the County Commission, Lee McDade put together a list of facilities that needed investment and separated these needs into four categories: (1) Need for Facility, (2) Building Need, (3) Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Need, and (4) Athletic. During the remaining time, the board discussed long-term sustainability projects, the use of building space for Pre-Kindergarten, transportation, class size growth, and the importance of engaging with the County Commission on budget priorities and planning.
The regular session began with several presentations including a story about a young boy from Mexico and his dedication to learning, honoring the Spelling Bee winners from Orchard Knob Middle, recognizing a senior with 13 years of perfect attendance, and improvements being made at iZone schools. Additionally, a representative from Dalewood Elementary presented UnifiEd’s video highlighting their school and discussed the progresses that were being made.
The HCDE leadership team gave updates on the Strategic Plan around two work areas, “Great Teachers, Great Leaders” and “Engage Every Child, Every Day.” Within the Great Teachers report, they discussed the February launch of a teacher mentorship program, improvements to teacher professional development through a choice-based model, and stronger partnerships with UTC. Within the Engage Every Child report, there were examples given of schools that were personalizing learning, developing science labs with a focus on hands on learning, and creating computer science training opportunities for elementary schools.
HCDE announced that Volkswagen has released an RFP to put $1 million dollars into schools seeking to innovate and learn through design thinking processes. There will be 8 schools awarded in August and 7 the following year. After the consent agenda was approved, the board approved to change the phone system for HCDE, sell the East Ridge High Athletic Property to the city of East Ridge, and a proposal for the board to talk directly with bus drivers to continue the discussion around transportation.
Each board member prioritized Harrison Elementary, CSLA, and East Hamilton Middle High as schools needing new buildings. They also identified Snow Hill Elementary, Howard, Spring Creek Creek, Lookout Valley Middle High, Central High, and Hixson High as in need of additions. The meeting ended with Tiffany Robinson discussing the protest that day in the Latino community resulting from Federal level action. She emphasized that we need to remind these families that they belong, are part of our community, and that central staff is working hard to ensure they feel welcome.