Blackboard Bonuses for Our Teachers Start Tomorrow!

Hamilton County Schools Spring Break starts today and public school teachers are getting a bit of rest from their hard work all year educating our children.

As a thank you for their service, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke has teamed up with local businesses to offer exclusive Blackboard Bonuses discounts and rewards to HCDE teachers.

All you have to do is present your HCDE employee ID to participating retail shops, health and wellness businesses, restaurants, and entertainment venues from March 31st through April 8th.

View a list of participating businesses on BlackBoard Bonuses website.

#BlackboardBonuses #TurnUpForTeachers

Deadline Approaching for Voter Registration!

April 2nd is the deadline for being registered to vote in the May 1st election.

It only takes a few minutes to register online.

Register here:
ProudVoter.org

Information about where your voting place is here:
http://elect.hamiltontn.gov/

Let’s take charge of our communities by using our vote!

School Board Recording: March 22, 2018

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

March 2018 Schoolboard Watch Blog

In this edition of UnifiEd’s School Board Watch Blog, we will take a look at the agenda for the March 22nd, 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:

    • Dr. Marsha Drake, Chief Equity Officer, will give a presentation to the Board on the Equity Task Force.
    • James Johnson from the NAACP will address the Board regarding equity in Hamilton County Schools.
    • Sheriff Jim Hammond, Ron Thomas, and Christine Essex will all address the Board regarding school safety.

 

 

 

Recognitions, Presentations, and Delegations:

  • HCDE will recognize Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts for being named a National Magnet School of Excellence by Magnet Schools of America, the national association for magnet and theme based schools. They will be recognized and receive a National Magnet School of Excellence Merit Award during an awards ceremony held at Magnet Schools of America’s 36th National Conference.
  • HCDE will recognize a recent Collegiate High graduate as a 2018 Prudential Spirit of the Community Award winner. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is the largest youth recognition program in the United States based exclusively on volunteer community service.
  • HCDE will recognize a student from Washington Alternative School as the winner of the EPB Black History Poetry Contest out of the 327 received entries. The student and her teacher will receive a prize and were honored at a March banquet.
  • A student from Lookout Valley Middle High School will be recognized for being named a Horatio Alger Tennessee State Scholar. This award is given to students from every state that experienced challenges, but ultimately overcame them to become successful business and civic leaders.
  • The Signal Mountain Middle High School Mock Trial Team will be recognized for being declared the District 5 competition winner. This means they will advance to the State final where they will compete among 16 teams from across the state.
  • HCDE will recognize the Tyner Academy African American History Quiz Bowl Team for winning the AFAM History Bowl. The competition is an annual event sponsored by the 100 Black Men of Chattanooga. The Tyner team will now compete in the national competition in Florida this summer
  • The Chief Schools Officer will give a presentation to the Board on the reorganization of the Curriculum and Instruction Department.
  • Claire Stockman will address the Board on Related Arts Lead Teachers in HCDE.

 

Field Trips:

  • Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts, Thrasher Elementary, Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences Upper, East Hamilton School, Signal Mountain Middle/High School, and Soddy Daisy High School will participate in music related field trips.
  • East Hamilton School, Tyner Academy, Ooltewah Middle School, Ooltewah High School, Signal Mountain Middle High School, Soddy Daisy High School, East Hamilton School, Red Bank High School, Sale Creek Middle High School, Signal Mountain Middle High School, and Brainerd High School will participate in sports related field trips.
  • Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts will send members of Destination Imagination to compete in the DI Global Finals.
  • Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences Upper will send students enrolled in eighth grade to Washington, D.C. for learning opportunities that coincide with eighth grade American history curriculum.
  • Normal Park Museum Magnet will send students enrolled in eighth grade to Georgia for hands-on science learning.
  • Sale Creek Middle High School will send students enrolled in art to SCAD and complete their portfolio.
  • Members of the Signal Mountain Middle High School mock trial will travel to Nashville to compete in the mock trial state competition.
  • Signal Mountain Middle High School will send students to Germany to learn about the German culture in a German school.
  • Members of the Soddy Daisy High School forensics teams will compete in the state forensics tournament.
  • Soddy Daisy High School, Sale Creek Middle High School, and Hixson High School will participate in JROTIC related field trips.
  • Signal Mountain Middle High School had members of youth in government attend the YMCA Youth in Government Conference in early March.
  • Students in the Soddy Daisy High School forensics team will compete in the district forensics tournament.
  • Students at Sequoyah High School will compete in the HOSA State Conference
  • Students at Loftis Middle School will compete in the TSA Leadership Conference.
  • Students at Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts will attend the VEX Worlds for Robotics Observation.
  • East Hamilton Middle School will send students to compete in FBLA State Conference.

 

New Position Request:

  • The office of Teaching and Learning is requesting to upgrade a current Program Director
    position to a Director 1 position, a Middle School Director of Teaching and Learning. This position will serve under the Director of Teaching and Learning and will focus on curriculum development and provide instructional support for Middle Schools across the Learning Communities. The Middle School Director will directly supervise ELA, Math, and Science content specialists, as well as support the instructional coaches assigned to all Middle Schools. This is a budget neutral change.

 

Bids/Contracts:

Board approval is sought for:

  • The purchase of musical equipment repairs and parts from Giant Steps, a local vendor, covering the 2018-19 school year.
  • The sale of surplus pianos at Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts to Jazzanooga totalling $2000.00.
  • Furnishing and installation of 4 wheel chair lifts replacements at Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts totalling $121,092.00 with funds provided by the 2017/18 Capital Projects Fund.
  • Furnishing and installation of kitchen equipment for the School Nutrition Program with prices varying from $3,159.00 to $8,529.00 depending on unit cost with funds to be provided by the School Nutrition budget.
  • The bids and contracts for commodity processing for the School Nutrition Program for the 2018-19 school year. Prices vary depending on comedy with funds to be provided by the School Nutrition Budget.
  • The purchase of an Access Control System from Central Technologies, Inc. The system will control entry into the school and require visitors to press a button to gain access to the building. It will also allow the teachers and staff to enter the building with a card or fob. Cost for initial implementation is $141,339.92 for the equipment and $162,133.00 for
    the installation with funding to come from the fund balance and the proceeds from the sale of the former East Brainerd Elementary.
  • The two computer training centers, the New Horizon Computer Learning Center and ONLC Training Center, as recommended by the Information Technology Department. These centers provide focused and relevant training, the classes are instructor led or
    attendees have the option to learn at their own pace, and both centers are Microsoft
    Certified and have resources for iOS training (MAC). HCDE would receive an educational discount for classes offered.
  • The purchase of a Visitor Management System from Raptor Technologies.  The visitor management system will perform sex offender registry checks on individuals as they come into the school and can also perform background checks as needed.  Embedded in the system is an emergency notification system that and it also replaces the paper log of visitors currently in place at schools. Cost for initial implementation is $118,760.00 and  there will be recurring annual maintenance costs of $40,500.00. Funds will be provided by the general purpose budget.
  • The purchase of motor fuel totalling $30,960.00 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 II, Diversity Innovation Grant, totaling $35,523.00
    • Work Based Learning Grant, totaling $25,000.00
    • National Science Foundation—Project Inspire, with a net increase of $1,104.00
    • Read to Be Ready Summer Grant, with an increase of $295,700.00
    • Nursing Services Self-Funded, with an increase of $300.00
    • Benwood Foundation Self-Funded Program, with transfers between line items
    • Ochs-Oakes Award Self-Funded Program, totaling $2,250.00
  • Additional Approval is sought for:
    • The amending the FY18 General Purpose Operating Budget for transfers between accounts in the Chief Equity Office, Accountability and Research Department, Chief of Schools Office, Chief of Staff Office, Mail Room and Receptionist Office, and the Innovative Program Department. These amendments reclassify existing budget appropriations between these various accounts.
    • The receiving of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for Hamilton County which covers the financial statements for the Hamilton County
      Board of Education as a discretely presented component unit of Hamilton
      County. The audit report indicates that the financial statements fairly present the
      financial position of the discretely presented component units.
    • The appropriation of the unassigned fund balance of $320,000.00 to purchase and install an access controlled door management system for the HCDE Schools currently operating without this security measure.
    • The appropriation of the unassigned fund balance of $118,760.00 to purchase a visitor management system for HCDE Schools.

 

Operations:

  • Board approval is sought for the ratification of early approval for the boiler room replacement at Spring Creek Elementary. In November 2017 there was a fire in the Spring Creek Boiler room and a local engineering firm has recommended a total replacement of the building due to the structural damage. The work will need to be completed over the summer to keep from interrupting school operation and cost will not exceed $459, 059.00. Currently, HCDE has received $302, 000.00 in insurance money and is working to receive additional insurance fund.

 

Opportunity Zone:

  • The Opportunity Zone Office is requesting new positions, 9 FTEs and 11 half FTEs, to serve Brainerd High, Dalewood Middle, Orchard Knob Middle, Orchard Knob Elementary, and Woodmore Elementary.  These positions will focus on academic improvement and support services in current Priority status schools.

 

Administrative, Business, and Other Matters:

  • Board Policy 1.803 Tobacco Free Schools- First Reading: This would revise current policy that prohibits all tobacco products and uses on school property to include electronic cigarettes and associated paraphernalia on all HCDE owned or leased property and vehicles.
  • The Administration has agreed to accept the donation of $30, 392.00 from Commissioner Discretionary bond funds to help assist with the constriction of the Normal Park Lower School Gymnasium.  
  • Board approval is recommended:
    • To award the bid to replace the track at Soddy Daisy High School to Baseline Sports Construction, LLC totalling $1,093,000.00 with funds to be provided by the 2017/18 Capital Projects Fund.
    • To utilize a list compiled by Justin Witt for architectural, engineering, and design firms to be used for services on an “as-needed basis” for HCDE projects.
    • To sign and execute all closing documents for the real estate closing of the Old East Brainerd Elementary school property for the purchase price of $4,500,000.00.
    • For the submission of the special course application to the State Department of Education for the 2018-19 school year.
    • To award tenure to the teachers who have satisfactorily completed their probationary period and met the evaluation score requirements.
    • For the architectural contracts for our upcoming projects based on the State Fee curve for the following projects:
      • East Hamilton Middle School: TWH Architects, A Michael Brady Company Inc with a contract amount of $2,270,367.00
      • Harrison Elementary: Franklin Architects with a contract amount of $1,514,613.00
      • Howard High Stadium and Track: Barge Design Solutions with a contract amount of $478,096.00
      • Snow Hill Elementary Addition: Neuhoff Taylor Architects with a contract amount of $539,113.00
      • Tyner Middle High & CSLA: Derthick, Henley, & Wilkerson Architects, PLCC with a contract amount of $2,298,266.00
  • Legal Services: A total of $22,358.81 was paid in the month of February for legal fees to Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan PLLC, the Markel Firm, and Wilson Reporting Agency (Court Reporter).

 

Events/Announcements:

  • March 23, 2018: Report Cards
  • March 26, 2018 at 6:00 p.m: Community Listening Tour at East Ridge High
  • March 27, 2018 at 6:00 p.m: Community Listening Tour at East Hamilton High
  • March 30, 2018: Spring Holiday
  • April 2-6, 2018: Spring Break
  • April 11, 2018: Kindergarten Pre-Registration
  • April 12, 2018: Budget Work Session
  • April 19, 2018: Budget Work Session and Regular Board Meeting

“Dismantling segregation” talk with Nikole Hannah-Jones

We are honored to host nationally-renowned journalist and expert on housing and school segregation Nikole Hannah-Jones on March 22! She’ll be speaking on the role of and importance of desegregating our schools to achieve equity and will share her research on the relationship between housing segregation, school segregation, and the role of individual choice. 

We welcome you to join us in creating a safe space for authentic conversation about the role race and class play in maintaining a separate and unequal school system.

Topics discussed will include:

  • History and relationship between housing and educational segregation

  • Role of individual choice and white flight in fostering inequities

  • Why the conversation around race is essential when speaking about addressing educational inequities

  • Importance of adopting policies that encourage racial and socioeconomic integration in public schools

Following her talk, we will break into small groups to strategize how desegregating schools would impact equity for the Hamilton County community. 

Food will be provided.

This is a free ticketed event. Seating is limited so you must reserve a free ticket in advance. If you wish to help cover the cost of your attendance, a suggested donation of $10/person is greatly appreciated.

 

Reserve your free ticket now >

 

Visit Nikole Hannah-Jones’ website >

ARTICLES, VIDEOS, & PODCASTS

Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City” (New York Times Magazine)

Segregated by Choice” video

Have We Lost Sight of the Promise of Public Schools?” (New York Times Magazine)

Schools are Segregated Because White People Want Them That Way” (Vox)

“The Problem We All Live With” (NPR This American Life podcast) – Part 1 and Part 2

School Segregation, the Continuing Tragedy of Ferguson” (ProPublica)

Segregation Now – The Resegregation of American Schools” (ProPublica)

The Resegregation of American Schools” (The Atlantic Education Summit – video)

How School Segregation Divides Ferguson — And the United States” (New York Times Magazine)

Reflecting on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act” (CBS News – video starting @ 3:40)

What’s causing the racial segregation in schools?” (MSNBC – video starting @ 3:30)

Choosing a School When Race Matters” (Video)

Gentrification Doesn’t Fix Inner-City Schools” (Grist)

Are Private Schools Immoral?” (The Atlantic)

MORE ABOUT NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES 
Nikole Hannah-Jones was named a 2017 MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow (one of only 24 people chosen, globally) for “reshaping national conversations around education reform” and for her reporting on racial re-segregation in our schools. This is the latest honor in a growing list: she’s won a Peabody, a Polk, and, in 2017, a National Magazine Award for her story on choosing a school for her daughter in a segregated city.

Nikole Hannah-Jones covers racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine, and has spent years chronicling the way official policy has created—and maintains—racial segregation in housing and schools. Her deeply personal reports on the black experience in America offer a compelling case for greater equity. She has written extensively on the history of racism, school resegregation, and the disarray of hundreds of desegregation orders, as well as the decades-long failure of the federal government to enforce the landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act. She is currently writing a book on school segregation called The Problem We All Live With, to be published on the One World imprint of Penguin/Random House. 

Her piece “Worlds Apart” in The New York Times Magazine won the 2017 National Magazine Award for “journalism that illuminates issues of national importance” as well as the Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism. In 2016, she was awarded a Peabody Award and George Polk Award for radio reporting for her This American Life story, “The Problem We All Live With.” She was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists, and was also named to The Root 100. Her reporting has also won Deadline Club Awards, Online Journalism Awards, the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service, the Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting, the Emerson College President’s Award for Civic Leadership, and was a previous finalist for the National Magazine Award. 

Hannah-Jones co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting with the goal of increasing the number of reporters and editors of color. She holds a Master of Arts in Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina and earned her BA in History and African-American studies from the University of Notre Dame. For the Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies, she investigated social changes under Raul Castro and the impact of universal healthcare on Cuba’s educational system. She was also selected by the University of Pennsylvania to report on the impact of the Watts Riots for a study marking the 40th anniversary of the Kerner Commission report, 2007. Along with The New York Times, her reporting has been featured in ProPublicaThe Atlantic MagazineHuffington PostEssence MagazineThe Week MagazineGristPolitico Magazine, and on Face the NationThis American Life, NPR, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, MSNBC, C-SPAN, Democracy Now, and radio stations across the country.  

School Board Recording: February 15, 2018

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

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!