Understanding the schools’ request

Hamilton County Department of Education (HCDE) presented a general operating budget for the 2017-18 school year to the Board of Education finance committee last Thursday that totaled $397 million, a $33.5 million increase over the current year’s budget.

“Download full details” sample document for each focus area

Let’s dig into how the requested additional funds would be spent if granted. The requests are organized by HCDE’s six areas of strategic focus.

Each section has a link to documents issued by HCDE with more details like:

  • Why these investments?
  • Details on each request
  • Expected outcomes
  • What if these needs are NOT funded?

Strong Foundations: Literacy and Math

Total requested increase: $1,600,000

Additional funds request at a glance:

  • Added literacy support for priority and on-the-cusp schools ($900,000)
  • Expanding innovative and effective math instruction ($100,000)
  • Supporting schools with literacy materials ($500,000)
  • Kindergarten readiness support ($52,000)

See full details >

Engage Every Child. Every Day.

Total requested increase: $8,700,000

Additional funds request at a glance:

  • School technology upgrades and support ($7,600,000)
  • Robotics program continuation and expansion ($63,200)
  • Hands-on science and art pilots ($250,000)
  • Art and eLab teachers ($780,000)

See full details >

Future Ready: Prepare All Students for College & Career

Total requested increase: $1,900,000

Additional funds request at a glance:

  • Core funding for the new Chattanooga Polytechnic Academy ($586,000)
  • Expanding post-graduation options for high school students, including work-based learning and technical credentials for high-demand jobs ($1,300,000)

See full details >

Closing the Opportunity Gap

Total requested increase: $4,000,000

Additional funds request at a glance:

  • Support for our growing English Language Learner population ($677,000)
  • Strategic and differentiated support for priority and cusp schools ($1,500,000)
  • Additional support for student health services ($289,000)
  • Increased supports for students with special needs ($964,000)
  • Charter school enrollment increases ($474,000)
  • Replicate Graduate on Point program at additional schools ($150,000)

See full details >

Great Teachers, Great Leaders

Total requested increase: $14,500,000

Additional funds request at a glance:

  • Cost of living adjustment and step pay increase for all educators ($11,000,000)
  • Strengthening our pipeline to ensure a great leader in every school ($417,000)
  • Additional teaching positions for projected enrollment increases ($1,500,000)
  • Professional learning to support beginning teachers ($1,400,000)
  • Increase capacity to recruit and train top talent ($148,000)

See full details >

Building Our Values: Culture, Climate, and Communication

Total requested increase: $2,800,000

Additional funds request at a glance:

  • School-based telephone support for communication and safety ($500,000)
  • Increase in block grants to allow more site-based decisions ($1,000,000)
  • Increases in custodial and transportation services ($1,300,000)

See full details >

UnifiEd’s take

The requested increase in funds has been tied to expected student outcomes, a first for HCDE and a step UnifiEd has called for as part of the Pact for Public Education. We are very pleased at this big step toward the goal and hope HCDE administration will expand on this approach by tying the full budget to outcomes in the future.

The Pact also calls for a multi-year operating budget. Dr. Kirk Kelly, interim superintendent, told the Board at the April 13 finance committee meeting that he would be presenting a multi-year budget “soon.” We commend the commitment to this Pact goal and look forward to seeing it presented!

Still unaddressed is a long-term plan for building and expanding schools, as well as addressing the massive backlog of maintenance issues. UnifiEd calls for HCDE and the county to work together to create and fund a multi-year capital plan that creates efficiencies and opportunities for equitable access to quality education for every student in Hamilton County.

Take action!

Our school funding campaign hub gives you all the tools to take action in support of increased funding for our schools.

  • “Find your elected officials” feature: Select your neighborhood to see who your school board member, county commissioner, and county mayor are, plus their contact info.
  • Tools to contact your county officials: Download a letter to sign and mail, get a phone script for making a call, or get suggested text for an email.

Visit the campaign hub now >

Finally, turn out to support school funding! The school board will vote on HCDE’s proposed budget on Thursday, April 20 at 5:30 p.m. Whether you support HCDE’s proposed budget specifically, or more funding for our schools in general, be there to show the school board that our community values investment in education!

UnifiEd will be there with pizzas and posters to help you share your voice – let’s fund Hamilton County’s future! Board meeting info >