February 2018 School Board Watch Blog

In this edition of UnifiEd’s School Board Watch Blog, we will take a look at the agenda for the February 15th, 2018 regularly scheduled session of the Hamilton County School Board Meeting. The meeting will be held in the Hamilton County School Board Meeting Room at 3074 Hickory Valley Road and is set to begin at 5:30 PM. We will live tweet @UnifiEdHC, follow along at #HCSchools.

 

To see the entire agenda with supporting documents click here.

 

Hot Topics:

    • Ezra Harris, President of the Woodmore Neighborhood Association and a member of the The Stand Up for School Bus Safety Coalition, will present the Coalition’s findings based on their research regarding bus transportation issues in Hamilton County. The Stand Up for School Bus Safety Coalition is a group of concerned citizens, community leaders and organizations that came together after the tragic school bus accident in late 2016. While some actions have been taken since the accident to make children safer on school buses, the Coalition believes there is more that needs to be done.
    • Superintendent Johnson will present the Partnership Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the State Department of Education. This MOA establishes a new school improvement model—a Partnership Model—intended to improve academic outcomes through evidence-based strategies and allocation of additional resources to low performing schools. Through this Agreement, HCDE and TDOE shall build a plan to ensure success for every student enrolled in schools within the Network, such that all students are equipped with the knowledge and skills to successfully embark upon their chosen path in life.

 

  • Board Policy 5.604 Overtime Pay of Classified Personnel- First Reading: Current policy regarding overtime pay for classified personnel needs to be revised to document current practices and ensure equity and compliance with call-in pay. Language has been added to reflect overtime provisions for maintenance employees including overtime calculations for call-in pay.  

 

 

Recognitions, Presentations, and Delegations:

  • There will be a presentation given to the Board on the status of the County Working Group.
  • Dr. Justin Robertson will give a presentation on teaching and learning reorganization.
  • Dr. Nakia Towns Edwards, Chief of Staff, will present Calendar Draft options to the Board to vote on the development of a new calendar for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years. The two new calendar drafts were crafted by the Calendar Committee, a community feedback group consisting of parents, community members, and staff. A third calendar draft will be crafted based on additional survey and board member feedback and presented at a later board meeting.
  • Karen Glenn will address any questions regarding HCDE’s 1st Semester Bullying Compliance Report for the 2017-2018 school year. There were 106 total number of reported confirmed cases of bullying and harassment. Staff, students, and community/parent trainings and programs regarding bullying and harassment continue.

 

Field Trips:

  • Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts and East Ridge High School will send members of their youth in government to the Youth in Government Conference in Nashville, TN.
  • Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences Upper will send members of their science
    fair to compete in the Tennessee Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.
  • East Hamilton School, Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences Upper, Lookout Valley Middle High School, Ooltewah High School, Signal Mountain Middle High School, and Lookout Mountain Elementary will participate in music related field trips
  • Chattanooga School for Liberal Arts and STEM School Chattanooga will send members of their robotics teams to compete in Robotics tournaments.
  • Members of the Signal Mountain Middle High School science teams will compete in the High School and Middle School Science Bowls.
  • Signal Mountain Middle High School will participate in a theater related field trip.
  • Members of the Soddy Daisy High School forensics team will compete in the forensics tournament.
  • Soddy Daisy High School JROTC students will visit historical locations on the Cumberland Trail.
  • Central High School, Lookout Valley Middle High School, Signal Mountain Middle High School, Soddy Daisy High School, and East Hamilton School will participate in sports related field trips.
  • Chattanooga School for Liberal Arts will send students to North Carolina to study American history.
  • Signal Mountain Middle High School Model UN students will attend the University of Alabama Model UN Conference.
  • Calvin Donaldson Elementary will send students to Rock Eagle Environmental Center to participate in environmental education.
  • Hixson High School will send students to attend the Future Farmers of America State Convention, Future Business Leaders of America Competition, and the Health Occupational Science Association State Conference.

 

Bids/Contracts:

Board approval is sought for:

  • The re-roofing and repairs of the Tyner High School Auditorium totalling $286,928.00 with funding from the 2016-17 Capital Fund.
  • The furnishing and installation of utility serving counters at DuPont Elementary School totalling $65,621.00 with funds to be provided by the School Nutrition Budget.
  • The purchase of McRel Balanced Leadership workbooks for Assistant Principals to participate in the Balanced Leadership Program. Materials will total $12,000.00 with funds to be provided by the Federal Title II Part A funds.
  • The purchase of motor fuel totalling $16,256.00 with funds provided by the Warehouse Inventory Fund.

 

Budget Amendments:

  • The following budget amendments for Federal Grants and Self-Funded Programs for FY2018 are recommended for board approval:
    • Title I, Improving Basic Programs, with transfers between line items and a net decrease of $129,110.00.
    • Title II, Teacher & Principal Training & Recruitment, with transfers between line items and a net decrease of $10,432.00.
    • Homeless Education, with transfers between line items.
    • Title I A, Local Neglected, with transfers between line items and a net decrease of $9,517.00.
    • Title I Delinquent, with transfers between line items and a net increase of $766.00.
    • Title IV Part A, Student Support and Academic Enrichment, with transfers between line items.
    • IDEA Preschool, with transfers between line items and a net increase of $7,411.00.
    • TN Disability Coalition Self-Funded, totaling $10,000.00.
    • Supplemental Salaries Self-Funded Program, with a net increase of $43,828.00.
  • Additional Approval is sought for:
    • The amending of the FY 2017-2018 budget for the Pre-K State Grant Award. The amendment reclassifies existing budget appropriations between various accounts, and increases the budget for $6.00 additional awarded by the State.
    • The appropriation of the unassigned fund balance of $850,000.00. These funds will be used to negotiate for the purchase of property adjacent to Sale Creek Middle High School to allow for the school campus to grow with additional facility expansions.

 

Curriculum and Instruction:

  • Board approval is sought for the ratification of early approval to add General Music/Vocal Music to the list of textbook committees approved at the December Board Meeting since this committee was originally overlooked.
  • The Textbook Adoption Committee is requesting the addition of 2 parents to the committee.

 

Human Resources:

  • The Chief Talent Officer is requesting the addition of one supervisory position for the Exceptional Education department effective March 1, 2018. No additional funding is needed. The purpose of the position will be to supervise ten Elementary Schools and focus on grant writing to be able to fund additional paraprofessional positions, instructional resources, and transportation.

 

Administrative, Business, and Board Matters:

  • The Union Fork-Bakewell Utility District have requested an easement from the existing water treatment plant that would run from the plant along the stream to Back Valley Road. In addition to providing additional water supply for the community it will also improve fire protection to North Hamilton County Elementary School as well as throughout the district. Board approval for the easement is recommended.
  • Chairman Steve Highlander will present a proposed resolution to be considered by the Board to urge the State of Tennessee General Assembly to overturn the A-F school grading system in favor of a new rating system with multiple measures that focuses on the unique strengths of each school. This will better inform parents, students, and the teachers about the strength and needs of each school while not diminishing the worth of students within the school. Further, the new system should reduce high stakes, standardized testing to more accurately reflect what students know.
  • Legal Services: A total of $9,085.83.00 was paid in the month of January for legal fees to Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan PLLC and the Markel Firm.

 

Events/Announcements:

 

  • February 20, 2018 – Tuesday at 6.00pm: Community Listening Tour at Hixson High School
  • February 22, 2018 –  Thursday at 6:00pm: Community Listening Tour at Signal Mountain Middle/High

 

  • February 26, 2018 – Monday at 6:00pm: Community Listening Tour at Ooltewah High School
  • February 27, 2018 – Tuesday at 6:00pm: Community Listening Tour at Red Bank High
  • March 4, 2018 – Tuesday at 6:00pm: Community Listening Tour at Tyner Academy
  • March 7, 2018 – Wednesday at 4:15pm: Superintendent Parent Advisory Meeting in the School Board Room
  • March 8, 2018 – Thursday at 4:00pm: Budget Work Session in the School Board Room
  • March 8, 2018 – Thursday at 6:00pm: Community Listening Tour at Lookout Valley Middle/High
  • March 12, 2018 – Monday at 4:15pm: Superintendent Student Advisory Meeting in the School Board Room
  • March 13, 2018 – Tuesday 6:00pm: Community Listening Tour at CSAS Upper
  • March 14, 2018 – Wednesday 4:15pm: Superintendent Teacher Advisory Meeting in the School Board Room
  • March 15, 2018 – Thursday 6:00pm: Community Listening Tour at Howard High School
  • March 19, 2018 – Monday 6:00pm: Community Listening Tour at Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts
  • March 20, 2018 – Tuesday 6:00pm: Community Listening Tour at Central High School
  • March 22, 2018 – Thursday 4:00pm: Budget Work Session in the School Board Room
  • March 22, 2018 – Thursday 5:30pm: Quarter Board Meeting in the School Board Room

Stand Against the Schoolhouse Heist Bill

Tennessee Senate Bill 1755 was proposed on January 23, 2018 by State Senator Todd Gardenhire. The bill proposes that all property and assets in a municipality that belong to a county school system would be forcibly transferred to the municipality if it forms an independent school district.

There are a variety of consequences of this bill, if it passes, that run counter to the desires expressed by the Hamilton County community through the recent process of the forming the Action Plan for Educational eXcellence (APEX Project).

That’s why UnifiEd is organizing the community to contact your state legislators and urge them to defeat the Schoolhouse Heist Bill.


Senate Bill 1755 – An Overview

“If a municipality creates or reactivates a city school system . . .  all real and personal property that is located within the boundaries of the municipality and is owned by the county school system shall be declared surplus property by the county school system, and transferred to the municipal school system.” (Read the full bill here.)

 

Reverse Robin Hood Effect

Under this bill, the state would force the transfer of assets from one entity to another without compensation. Taxpayers own their schools, yet this bill would allow for their property to be seized. Historically across the state, and within our own community today, the municipalities that have formed independent districts have been affluent suburbs.

This situation creates a transfer of wealth from lower income neighborhoods to more prosperous communities. It is, in effect, a “reverse Robin Hood” effect — stealing from the poor to give to the wealthy.

Equity, Fairness, and Community Voice

For six months in 2017-2018, we collected community input from across Hamilton County to identify issues of inequity across the school system along with potential solutions to those issues through the APEX Project. The 25 most commonly cited issues and solutions were then voted on by the community through the APEX Bus Tour to prioritize the most urgent solutions for achieving equity for every child in our schools. Three of those solutions would be severely obstructed if SB 1755 is adopted.


Capital Planning and Investment

One of the APEX Project’s solutions states “Funds must be provided to make all school facilities safe and healthy learning spaces, and there must be a long-term plan to keep them that way.” This statement gets at the need for an adequately funded long-term capital plan for our school system. There would be little incentive for the county to fund capital projects, though, if it they could be forced to cede those assets at any time in the future while still being responsible for any debt on the assets. This bill would incentivize municipalities to exit county systems and leave taxpayers continuing to foot the bill of schools to which their students no longer have access to attend.

The passage of SB 1755 would also stifle long-term capital planning efforts because there would be little confidence to assume debt for assets with an uncertain future. Lack of long-term planning leads to inefficient capital spending and creates an environment in which maintenance, expansion, and construction of schools would be gravely deferred.

 

Racial and Socioeconomic Segregation

Two additional APEX Project solutions state that “Community members must demand the end of socioeconomic and racial segregation in our schools” and “A plan must be developed [by the Department of Education’s Central Office administration] to end socioeconomic and racial segregation in schools.” SB 1755 directly threatens efforts to end segregation in our schools, and here’s how.

Receiving school buildings and property for free from the county lowers a primary barrier to municipalities seceding from county school systems. An incentive would be created for municipalities to exit county systems and leave county taxpayers footing the bill of schools to which their students no longer have access to attend.

Municipalities with the resources and political clout to effectively establish independent school systems would be left with an unfair advantage with new budgets free from capital debt that would remain shouldered by the county system. Such communities would be incentivized to segregate themselves while lower-income communities are left at an even greater disadvantage due to ongoing debt service and loss of assets.

As affluent independent districts segregate themselves from their surrounding community, the already grave issue of concentration of poverty in our schools becomes worse.

 

About Signal Mountain

To illustrate the above position, let’s examine the impact SB 1755 could have on Hamilton County schools. One municipality in our county, Signal Mountain, has recently explored a plan for creating a separate school district. If that plan were to be revived, the residents of Signal Mountain could vote to create an independent school district. Under SB 1755, Hamilton County Department of Education would then be forced to transfer Signal Mountain schools’ property, buildings, and assets to the new district while continuing to pay the debt on those buildings.

Mayor Jim Coppinger has stated that Hamilton County currently owes $17.5 million on the bonds for those school buildings on Signal Mountain. The new school system would not assume that debt and Hamilton County taxpayers would continue paying for the buildings.

In addition, the schools on Signal Mountain were built to serve not just Town of Signal Mountain residents, but also children residing in Walden and unincorporated areas of the mountain. The children and taxpayers residing in these areas would be unfairly penalized by this bill because they would no longer be able to attend schools they paid for and that were designed to serve them.

One of the gravest issues facing Hamilton County schools and negatively impacting student success is the high number of schools of concentrated poverty. One-third of schools in Hamilton County are considered such, meaning that more than 80% of the school’s student population lives in poverty. The community has demanded through the APEX Project that racial and socioeconomic segregation come to an end in our schools, yet the secession of Signal Mountain from the school system would provide a major roadblock to efforts to increase every school’s diversity.

The Schoolhouse Heist Bill would make it all the more easy for that secession to happen, leaving the rest of the county not just with big debt but also even bigger challenges to increasing diversity and student outcomes.

Take Action!

Contact your state legislators and tell them to vote no on the Schoolhouse Heist Bill!

Get legislators’ contact info >

 

Teacher Diversity

New Grant Champions Teacher Diversity

Big win for equity in our schools as HCDE receives grant supporting teacher diversity

The Tennessee Department of Education announced last week that Hamilton County Department of Education is one of three school districts to be awarded a grant to help increase the number of minority teachers in its schools. This is thrilling news for our community, especially because more diversity among our educators was one of the top solutions identified by YOU – the community – as a solution to inequities facing our children in Hamilton County’s public schools today.

After collecting more than 2,650 surveys on issues and solutions around equity in our schools in the fall of 2017, our research team analyzed responses to identify the most commonly cited statements. Among the top 25 (currently being prioritized by the community through voting on the APEX Bus Tour) was this statement:

Our teacher population must reflect the diversity of our students.

This grant is an exciting step toward all students having access to educators with similar identities to them.

As reported in The Chattanooga Times Free Press, the grant money will be used to create a teaching academy program at Tyner Academy, partnering with University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. They will begin with a group of freshmen and add a new class each year. The goal is to increase the number of minority high school students interested in pursuing teaching as a profession.

 

Why teacher diversity matters

 

Simply put, students do better when taught by someone with a shared identity or life experience to them. Research shows that students have better academic performance, higher graduation rates, and lower drop-out rates when their teachers come from a similar background.

When teachers understand their students and where they come from, they can create deeper, more meaningful personal connections. It also helps them develop lessons and approach instruction in a culturally relevant way.

But, in Hamilton County, many minority students don’t have access to teachers similar to them.

Student and Teacher Populations, Hamilton County Public Schools
  Students Teachers
White 55%  87%
Black 31% 11% 
Hispanic 12% <1% 
Asian 2%  <1% 
Native American <1%  <1% 
Hawaiian/Pacific Islander <1%  0%

 

School Board Recording: January 18, 2018

Please watch the meeting by clicking the “play” button on the video below!

January 2018 School Board Watch Blog

In this edition of UnifiEd’s School Board Watch Blog, we will take a look at the agenda for the January 18th, 2018 regularly scheduled session of the Hamilton County School Board Meeting. The meeting will be held in the Hamilton County School Board Meeting Room at 3074 Hickory Valley Road and is set to begin at 5:30 PM. We will share the livestream video of the meeting on Facebook and post the video on this blog after the meeting.

 

To see the entire agenda with supporting documents click here.

 

Hot Topics:

  • Second and Final Reading of Board Policy 6.203: School Admissions– Due to changes in state law referencing the provision of social security numbers, it is necessary to revise the current policy on School Admissions. The revised policy no longer requires any student entering school for the first time to present their social security numbers.
  • Budget Calendar– The School Board will be presenting the budget calendar for FY2019.

 

Recognitions and Presentations:

  • The Hamilton County Department of Education will recognize seven students as National Merit Semi Finalists. These students qualified for recognition based on their performances on the Preliminary SAT.
  • The National Council for the Social Studies will recognize Erin Glenn for winning the annual “Outstanding Middle Level Teacher of the Year”.
  • Dr. Bryan Johnson will present a retreat follow-up to the Hamilton County School Board.

 

Field Trips:

  • Students from CSLA’s robotics team will attend the VEX IQ Tournament
  • East Hamilton School, Signal Mountain Middle/High School, and Sale Creek Middle/High School will all participate in youth in government field trips.
  • East Hamilton School, East Ridge High School, and Soddy Daisy High School will all participate in music-related field trips.
  • Twenty-four students enrolled in JROTC at Red Bank High School will attend the 7th Brigade Academic/Rifle/Drill Championships.
  • Signal Mountain Middle/High School and Soddy Daisy High School will participate in science-related field trips.
  • Students from Big Ridge Elementary will travel to Rock Eagle to participate in science.
  • Seventeen students from Hixson High School, East Hamilton Middle School / High School, and Ooltewah High School will participate in the Special Olympics Winter Games in Gatlinburg, TN.

 

Bids/Contracts:

Board approval is sought for:

  • The purchase of a website Content Management System which would encompasses the district website, school websites, and individual teacher pages. The content management system will replace the existing HCDE website content management system. Year one with this system totals $82,240.00 and the two following years will cost $60,040.00 per year. Funds will come from the General Purpose Budget.
  • The purchase of HVAC Gas Packs for CSAS and Ooltewah Middle Schools totalling $124, 916.00 from the Maintenance and Capital Funds budget.
  • The Coalition of Large Area School Systems (CLASS) retainer agreement with Millaps Gowan Government Relations regarding HCDE’s continued membership in the CLASS group. This will total an annual cost of $37,500.00.
  • A payment of $6,789.53 to Chattanooga Electric Supply due to a fire at Spring Creek Elementary.

 

Budget Amendments:

  • Board approval is needed to amend the FY18 General Purpose Operating Budget for transfers between accounts. Requests include transfers for information services, Exceptional Ed. System Wide, and Capital Technology.
  • The following budget amendments for Federal Grants and Self-Funded Programs for FY2018 are recommended for board approval:
    • Carl Perkins Vocational Grant, with a net increase of $29,249 covering areas such as vocational instruction, student support, and vocational instructional staff support.
    • Flower Fund Self-Funded Program, totaling $8,101 for salaries.
    • Supplemental Salaries Self-Funded Program, with a net increase of $38,590 to cover items like instruction and student support.
  • Additional Approval is sought for:
    • Appropriating the fund balance previously committed for Capital Maintenance projects in the amount of $5,000,000.00. These funds will be used for Capital maintenance and repair projects as established in conjunction with County bond funds.
    • Hixson High School’s grant application for a Joint Use Indoor Marksmanship Range (Funded by National Rifle Association for $675,000).
    • Opportunity Zone Schools’ grant application for Teach to One: Math (Funded by UNUM for $200,000 per year for five (5) years).

 

Human Resources:

  • Human Resources will present their proposed revised Differential Pay Plan originally approved at the June 2017 Board meeting. The changes do not impact the budget but re-allocate the funds initially for 2017-18 performance bonuses that are no longer going to be used. In an effort to make us more competitive when seeking the best talent, the district would like to re-utilize the funds for signing bonuses for hard-to-staff subject areas in Title Schools. These include Physics, Chemistry, 7-12 Mathematics, self-contained Special Education classes, and Speech Language Pathologists.

 

Administrative and Business Matters:

  • Two parents have requested the Hamilton County Board of Education review their sons’ zero tolerance suspension appeal decision.
  • Legal Services: A total of $24,418.30 was paid in the month of December for legal fees to Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan PLLC and the Markel Firm.

 

Events/Announcements:

 

  • January 29, 2018 – March 9, 2018 – Schools choose one extended day (3.5 School Board Meeting hours) for Parent-Teacher Conferences (SECOND half of Administrative In-Service #6)

 

  • February 15, 2018 – Thursday School Board Meeting

 

School Board Recording: December 21, 2017

The HCDE School Board met on December 21, 2017, to discuss matters concerning the 2017-2018 school year. You can watch the meeting by clicking the “play” button on the video below!

December 2017 School Board Watch Blog

In this edition of UnifiEd’s School Board Watch Blog, we will take a look at the agenda for the December 21st, 2017 regularly scheduled session of the Hamilton County School Board Meeting. The meeting will be held in the Hamilton County School Board Meeting Room at 3074 Hickory Valley Road and is set to begin at 5:30 PM. We will live tweet @UnifiEdHC, follow along at #HCSchools.

 

To see the entire agenda with supporting documents click here.

 

Hot Topics:

  • Superintendent, Dr. Johnson, will be requesting a new position be created for Chief Equity Officer. In order to improve student achievement and increase efficiency and effectiveness, Dr. Johnson will recommend that the Director of Student Services position be elevated to Chief Equity Officer. This role will take a more comprehensive approach to the alignment of student support resources and the assurance of equitable education access for all students. The Chief Equity Officer will oversee all equity efforts as well as student services, social workers, counselors, EL services, homeless services, and potentially Special Education. This shift would finalize the necessary Chief Officer shifts to complete a C-suite of district leaders responsible for the various functions of our school district.
  • First reading of Board Policy 6.203: School Admissions– Due to changes in state law referencing the provision of social security numbers, it is necessary to revise the current policy on School Admissions. The revised policy no longer requires any student entering school for the first time to present their social security numbers.
  • Second and Final reading of Board Policy 4.205: Magnet Programs– The current policy for magnet school programs is being revised. The revision allows for all students who attend a Hamilton County school or reside in the Hamilton County school zone to have the opportunity to apply for or attend a magnet school.
  • Second and final reading of Board Policy 5.304: Extended Leaves of Absence for Certificated/Classified Personnel– The current policy is being revised to include maternity leave and a new approach to absences longer than eight weeks. The new policy will provide clarification to frequently asked employee questions as well as emphasizing timelines for submission of leave paperwork and documentation. The major addition to the policy reads: “if an employee needs to extend leave beyond the eight-week leave period, the employee must formally request an extension from Human Resources no less than 30 days before the expiration of that eight-week leave period, unless the notice period is waived by the director of schools upon receipt of a certified statement by a physician.”

 

Recognitions and Presentations:

  • The Principal at Signal Mountain Middle High School will recognize members of the 2017 girls’ cross country team for placing at the 2017 Cross Country State Champions and the 2017 Region Champions.
  • The Principal at Tyner Academy will recognize the 2017 football team, the Tyner Rams. The Rams represented Hamilton County in the TSSAA 2A State Championship game finishing as State Runner-Ups.
  • Presentations will be given by Justin Witt, updating the architect selection for current projects, and Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson, updating the calendar.
  • Byron Roberts, Quarterback Club President at Sale Creek Middle High School will be addressing the board.

 

Field Trips:

  • Central High School, East Hamilton School, Soddy Daisy High School, Ooltewah High School, Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts, Red Bank High School, and Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences Upper will participate in music related field trips
  • Members of the Ooltewah High School dance team will attend the Magic City Competition in Alabama.
  • Students from Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences Upper will travel to Madrid, Spain for language immersion and cultural enrichment.
  • Ooltewah High School, Signal Mountain Middle High School, Soddy Daisy High School, and East Hamilton School will participate in sports related field trips.
  • Soddy Daisy High School will send members of the Environmental Club to compete in the NOSB Hurricane Bowl.
  • Ooltewah High School will sent members of the Model UN Team to attend the Model United Nations Conference in November of this year.
  • Students at Red Bank High School will attend the Student Television Network Convention in Nashville.
  • Students from The Howard School will travel to Washington, D.C. to see first-hand the history of our democracy and will share their experience with underclassmen upon their return.

 

Bids/Contracts:

Board approval is sought for:

  • The sale of surplus vehicles, 15 in total, with sale values varying from $111.86 to $1,700.00.
  • The purchase of an online student registration system ans magnet lottery system from PowerSchool. The online registration system will allow parents to complete the required forms for school registration online through multiple devices. A 3 year contract will total $266,325.89 with funds to be provided by the General Purpose budget.
  • The partial re-roof of Hunter Middle School totalling $1,122,335.00 with funding to be provided by the 2016/17 Capital Fund.
  • The purchase of a truck with an 11ft. dump bed to replace the current truck that was taken out of service. The truck purchase will be in the amount of $58,500.00 with funds provided by the Maintenance Equipment fund.
  • The purchase of COGNOS, a data reporting and collection solution, as an add-on for the finance, human resources and payroll software for the district. This 3 year contract purchase will be from PowerSchool Group, LLC with a 1 year total of $83,525.08 with a 3% increase each year. Funds will be provided by the General Purchase budget.
  • The purchase of a Torque Certification Kit and Verus Edge Workstation from Snap-On Industrial, a division of IDSC Holdings, LLC, for a total of $33,487.51 with funds to be provided by the CTE Perkins Grant. These materials will be used to certify students in receiving their Snap-On Industry Certification.
  • The first amendment to the contract with Momentum Behavior Analysis for the 2017-18 school year to provide Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) services to students with disabilities. The amendment is to extend the agreement until the end of the 2017-18 school year. The services will not exceed $35,000.00 with funds to be provided by the Exceptional Education General Purpose funds.
  • The first amendment to the agreement with Stellar Therapy Services, LLC to provide Speech and Language, Occupational, and Physical Therapy services. The amendment is to cover additional staffing needs of three full time unfilled SLP positions that has been vacant all school year. The amendment is for an additional $370,000.00 for the 2017-18 school year making the new total not to exceed $2,359,972.00 with current GP, IDEA, and Self-Funded funds to be used. No additional funds are requested.  
  • The contract for Psychological and Assessment Services with Stellar Therapy Services, LLC for a school psychologist. The total will not exceed $40,796.00 to be paid from IDEA, Part B funds during the 2017-2018 school year, with no additional funds requested.
  • The purchase of motor fuel totalling $14,552.00 with funds provided by the Warehouse Inventory Fund.

 

Budget Amendments:

  • The following budget amendments for Federal Grants and Self-Funded Programs for FY2018 are recommended for board approval:
    • Title III English Language Acquisition Grant, covering expenses such as teacher supplements, assistants, and benefits, with a net increase of $40,414.00.
    • Title III Immigrant Grant, covering expenses such as bilingual teacher supplements, benefits, and supplies, totaling $18,119.00.
    • Title IV Part A, Student Support and Academic Enrichment, with transfers between line items for areas such as instructional materials and equipment.
    • Family Resource Centers, with transfers between line items for salaries and education coordinators.
    • 21st Century Community Learning Centers (Year 5), with transfers between line items for areas such as teacher contracts, salaries, and insurance.
    • Carl Perkins Vocational Grant, with transfers between line items for areas like personnel and insurance.
    • Therapy Services Self-Funded Program, with transfers between line items and a net increase of $360,000.00
    • Special Education Self-Funded Program, for areas like employee benefits and insurance, totaling $1,100.00.
    • JROTC Competitions Self-Funded Program, totaling $6,953.00.
    • Nursing Services Self-Funded Program, with a net increase of $25,232.00 for areas such as office and medical supplies.
    • Maintenance Recyclables Self-Funded Program, with a net increase of $8,651.00 for materials and equipment maintenance.
    • College Fair Self-Funded Program, totaling $5,347.00.
    • Supplemental Salaries Self-Funded Program, with a net increase of $29,121.00 covering areas like staffing and employee benefits.
  • Additional approval is sought for:
    • The appropriation of the fund balance previously committed for Telecommunication in the amount of $2,000,000.00. These funds will be used to convert the current HCDE telephone system from analog lines to VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) for all schools and sites within Hamilton County Department of Education.
    • The appropriation of the fund balance previously committed for Capital Maintenance projects in the amount of $10,280,000.00. These funds are assigned to be used for Capital maintenance and repair projects as established in conjunction with County bond funds.
    • The FY18 General Purpose Budget Mid-Year True Up Amendment: Each year the Finance Department prepares a mid-year budget amendment to account for adjustments made to the District’s General Purpose Fund approved budget. This “true up amendment reflects the changes to the budget but no additional revenue is needed for these transfers between accounts

 

Administrative and Business Matters:

  • The board will review a student’s zero tolerance suspension appeal decision.
  • Approval is sought for:
    • The operating agreement between Chattanooga State and the Hamilton County Department of Education pertaining to the extension of the STEM lease agreement with Chattanooga State. This agreement will set forth standard operating procedures for students while on campus at Chattanooga State.
    • The agreement with the Hamilton County Juvenile Detention Unit. The purpose of this agreement is to establish working procedures between the Hamilton County Department of Education and any County Operated Detention Center to provide free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities who are detained or incarcerated in county or city-operated detention centers.
    • A list of textbook committees to work on selecting curriculum resources. The committees will work over the course of the next three months to bring the best available instructional resources for approval at the April 2018 Board Meeting.
    • The consultant agreement with Jessica Kaminski for a total of $4,080.00 from the Title I School Support budget for the Opportunity Zone. Services will include strategies for teacher support and development of effective math teaching practices, student engagement, best practices for teaching effectively, and bridging the gap for students who are below grade level.
    • A resolution proposed by Vice Board Chair, Karitsa M. Jones, to express the school board’s opposition to the use of public funds in the form of vouchers for private, religious, and non-religious schools. This is in response to the pending legislation that would create voucher programs to allow public funds to pay tuition cost for students to attend private, religious, and non-religious schools. The resolution emphasizes the concern that this will divert funds for public schools and their success.
  • Legal Services: A total of $26,532.27  was paid in the month of November for legal fees to Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan PLLC and the Markel Firm.

 

Events/Announcements:

 

  • December 21, 2017 – January 3, 2018- Winter Break, Schools closed
  • December 25-26, 2017- Christmas Holiday, Central Office closed
  • January 1-2, 2018- New Years Holiday, Central Office closed
  • January 4, 2018- Teacher Professional Development, School-Based (No Students)
  • January 5, 2018 – Teacher Professional Development, System-wide (No Students)
  • January 8, 2018 – School Reopens
  • January 15, 2018 – Martin Luther King Day, Schools and Central Office Closed
  • January 18, 2018 – School Board Meeting

 

 

November 2017 School Board Watch Blog

In this edition of UnifiEd’s School Board Watch Blog, we will take a look at the agenda for the November 16th regularly scheduled session of the Hamilton County School Board Meeting. The meeting will be held in the Hamilton County School Board Meeting Room at 3074 Hickory Valley Road and is set to begin at 5:30 PM. We will live stream the board meeting on our Facebook page here.

 

To see the entire agenda with supporting documents click here.

 

Hot Topics:

  • First reading of Board Policy 4.205: Magnet Programs– The current policy for magnet school programs is being revised. The revision allows for all students who attend a Hamilton County school or reside in the Hamilton County school zone to have the opportunity to apply for or attend a magnet school.
  • First reading of Board Policy 5.304: Extended Leaves of Absence for Certificated/Classified Personnel– The current policy is being revised to include maternity leave and a new approach to absences longer than eight weeks. Now it reads: “if an employee needs to extend leave beyond the eight-week leave period, the employee must formally request an extension from Human Resources no less than 30 days before the expiration of that eight-week leave period, unless the notice period is waived by the director of schools upon receipt of a certified statement by a physician.”

 

Recognitions and Presentations:

  • Dr. Justin Robertson, Assistant Superintendent, will give recognition to the following five Hamilton County schools for being in the top 5 percent for achievement (Performance) and/or growth (Progress): Lookout Mountain Elementary, Nolan Elementary, Thrasher Elementary, STEM School, and East Ridge Middle.
  • Robertson also will acknowledge the grant from the Leonore Annenberg Scholarship, Fellowship, and School Funds, that made possible the improvements for the following schools: DuPont Elementary School’s Epicenter of Learning and Collaboration Library and East Ridge Elementary School’s Synergy Station: The Story of Us.
  • There will be a presentation to give the board an update on the McRel Balanced Leadership Training, a program establishing a district-wide leadership framework to support leaders at all levels.
  • Jill Levine will present an update to the board on the status of the Opportunity Zone.
  • The Superintendent will present updates regarding recruitment efforts within the HR department and the Transition Team’s work.

 

Field Trips:

  • Students from East Hamilton School, Red Bank High School, Signal Mountain Middle, Signal Mountain High School, and Soddy Daisy High School will participate in sports related field trips.
  • Students from Central High School, Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts, Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, Hinson Middle School, and Red Bank Middle will participate in music related field trips.
  • East Ridge High School will send students to attend a Model United Nations Conference.
  • Students from Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts, Loftis Middle School, and Signal Mountain Middle/High School will participate in history related field trips.
  • Ooltewah Middle School will send students to participate in the Beta State Convention in Nashville, TN.
  • Soddy Daisy High School will send students to participate in a forensics tournament and also a group of JROTC students to compete in the 2018 Ragnar Trail.

 

Bids/Contracts:

Board approval is sought for:

  • The partial reroof of Wallace Smith Elementary School totalling $583,900.00 with funds to be provided by the 2016/2017 Capital Fund.   
  • A contract with Public Education Foundation and Principal Leadership Academy for $100,000.00 from the General Purpose Budget. The contract will provide training, mentoring, and support to Assistant Principals interested in moving into a Principal role.
  • The purchase of motor fuel totalling $28,608.00 from the Warehouse Inventory Fund.

 

Conferences/Consultants:

Board approval is sought for:

  • The consultant agreement between Haley Brown, Principal at Red Bank Elementary and Jessica Kaminski for a total of $35,200.00 from their school based Federal Title I budget. The purpose for hiring Jessica Kaminski for Red Bank Elementary is to significantly elevate the quality of instruction by providing staff with a substantial opportunity for professional development.

 

Budget Amendments:

  • School Board approval is needed to amend the FY18 Property Tax revenue in the amount of $1,000,000.00 and increase the appropriation to the School Instructional Supplies account in the amount of $1,000,000.00.

 

Administrative and Business Matters:

  • Second and final reading of Board Policy 3.502: Offer Versus Serve– In compliance with USDA regulation changes, the current “Offer Versus Serve” policy is being updated to now exempt all Pre-K students from the policy. This policy outlines breakfast and lunch services that are eligible for federal reimbursements.
  • Second and final reading of Board Policy 6.304:Student Discrimination, Harassment, Bullying, Cyber-Bullying, and Hazing– The General Assembly has mandated timelines for responding to reports of bullying, so current policy is being revised to incorporate the required deadlines. The policy has now added a section on reported incidents which reads “All allegations shall be fully investigated by a building administrator and/or school official. Investigations must commence as soon as possible but in no event more than 48 hours after the report. Investigations must be resolved within 20 days of the report.”
    • Approval is sought for an agreement with the Hamilton County Juvenile Detention Unit. The purpose of this agreement is to establish working procedures between the LEA and AGENCY in provision of services to all eligible children with disabilities who are detained or incarcerated in county/city-operated detention centers to provide free appropriate public education.
    • Approval of an agreement is sought with the Silverdale Correctional Facility and Hamilton County Jail. The purpose of this agreement is to establish working procedures between Hamilton County Department of Education and any County-Operated Detention Center in the provision of services to eligible children with disabilities, who are detained or incarcerated in county/city- operated detention centers to provide free appropriate public education in compliance with Federal and Tennessee State laws and regulations.
    • Dr. Bryan Johnson, Superintendent, seeks approval to change the title of the formerly proposed Teacher Talent and Induction Specialist position to Teacher Talent and Induction Coordinator. He asks that this new title is compensated accordingly. Johnson also requests that the current Compliance Coordinator role’s title be elevated to Compliance Director.
    • Karen Glenn will present the 1st Quarter Bullying Compliance Report to the board. The 2016-2017 end year total for reported confirmed cases of bullying and harassment is 2017, and the 2017-2018 1st Quarter total is 44 cases.  
    • The administration has agreed to accept Commissioner Discretionary bond funds totalling $5,000.00 to purchase a tarp for Sale Creek High School’s girls’ softball field.

 

  • Legal Services: A total of $39,938.30 was paid in the month of October for legal fees to Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan PLLC and Markel, Von Kessler & Cox.

 

 

Events/Announcements:

    • November 21, 2017 – Woodmore Memorial Woodmore Elementary – 4:00
    • November 22-24, 2017 – Thanksgiving Holidays

 

  • December 6, 2017 – Superintendent Parent Advisory Committee Central Office Board Room – 4:15 p.m.
  • December 12, 2017 – Hamilton County High Graduation Bayside Baptist Church – 6:00 p.m.
  • December 19, 2017 – Last Day of Classes Before Winter Break
  • December 20, 2017 – Teacher Professional Development No Students
  • December 21, 2017 – School Board Meeting 5:30 p.m.

 

December 21, 2017 – January 3, 2018 – Winter Break

School officials must put meat on bones of capital plan

 

UnifiEd commends Hamilton County Department of Education’s new leadership team on its quick work to develop a plan for the $100 million recently granted by the county for capital projects. We appreciate that the plan integrates the priority projects previously identified by the Board of Education and incorporates many of the recommendations of the budget working group report about increased efficiency as a source of cost savings.

We are also pleased to see that the plan takes steps toward reassessing zoning and school usage while calling for a full assessment of capital needs to inform a seven-to-10-year strategic capital plan. In the capital plan adopted by the school board last month, the Department of Education outlined three essential next steps that UnifiEd fully supports — community meetings for affected schools, reassessment of zoning lines and development of a long-term strategic capital plan with an external consultant.

It is clear that given the vast and diverse needs across our community and schools, there must be a community-driven, equitable, and fully funded approach to capital needs in the school system.

That’s why we urge the district to take the following specific actions to make these critical goals become concrete reality.

Outreach and community engagement:
Opportunities for the community to engage with the district in decision-making should be accessible and structured. Access means that the opportunities are promoted across multiple media and communication channels to ensure exposure to many audiences. Structure means community members should have a defined platform for voicing their specific concerns and raising issues not pre-identified by the district. In-person meetings should be interactive and facilitated by a third party, while surveys can draw wider participation to prioritize issues.

Strategic planning:
The current capital plan approved by the school board was not on the meeting’s public agenda, and the report provides few details about the actual investment planned for each affected school. In the future, when plans are shared with the public, there should be accessible and easily understandable information about how estimates and figures were established.

Inclusive decision-making:
To develop and implement better policies that reflect the diverse interests in Hamilton County, we urge the district to develop a community engagement plan that ensures all future initiatives and strategic plans have a focus on equity, inclusion, and shared decision-making.

Future efforts to address potential zoning solutions should include controlled family choice, a commitment to equity, and the elimination of schools with concentrated populations of students living in poverty.

Transparent and accessible information:
All future plans should be comprehensive, easy to understand, and open for community review in advance of decision making.

Our community’s values should be reflected in decisions on how resources are allocated across our schools, and this community has demonstrated a commitment to ensuring that all children, regardless of background, have the opportunity to succeed.

We urge our community, elected officials and the school system to consider the importance of a community-driven, equitable and fully funded approach to capital management in our schools. We can easily identify need, but it is much more difficult to build solutions to those needs that are fair to each child and representative of this community’s values. However, these are the factors that will make systemic changes both effective and sustainable in the success of our school system.

 

This editorial was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on November 5, 2017 and signed by UnifiEd Executive Director Jonas Barriere. See the original here >

School Board Recording: October 19, 2017

Please watch the meeting by clicking the “play” button on the video below!