June School Board Watch Blog 2018

In this edition of UnifiEd’s School Board Watch Blog, we will take a look at the agenda for the June 21st, 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 p.m. The meeting will be livestreamed by HCDE through their Facebook page and the recording will be posted here on the UnifiEd blog afterwards.

View the full agenda and supporting documents >

Hot Topics:

    • A Work Session will be held at 4:00 before the regularly scheduled school board meeting that will have a discussion about the Equity Task Force. In addition, the Equity Task Force is a topic on the agenda during the regularly scheduled board session.
    • Superintendent Dr. Johnson will recognize the outgoing Student Representative, Tyrese Jones, of UnifiEd’s Student Voice Team. Mr. Jones will introduce the newly elected Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council Chairperson (SSAC) for the 2018-2019 school year. Elected by their peers, the SSAC Chairperson serves as the Student Representative to the Hamilton County Board of Education.

 

  • Board Policy 4.502 Parent and Family Engagement Revised- First Reading: The current Parent and Family Engagement policy is being revised to reflect changes in state law. The board must implement operation activities, programs, and procedures for parent and family engagement in all schools after planning with consultation with parents and families. In addition they must incorporate strategies for family and parent engagement into the Local Education Association (LEA) Needs Assessment and Plan Prioritized Goals and Strategies. These strategies will include ways for families to learn about their children’s studies and have access to their learning materials, improved parent, family, and teacher cooperation and communication, a commenting process for engagement plans, full access, information, and opportunities for ELL parents and families, and the appointment of a Parent and Family Advisory Council that will annually assess the effectiveness of engagement policies.

 

Recognitions, Presentations, and Delegations:

  • Lookout Valley Middle/High, Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts, Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, and Hamilton County Collegiate High will be recognized for making the U.S. News and World Report list for best high schools in Tennessee.
  • The Principal of STEM School Chattanooga will be recognized for earning top honors in STEM Excellence Awards as the recipient of the STEM Innovator Award for 2018.
  • A presentation will be given to the Board on the status of the three-year action plan “Future Ready 2021”. Future Ready 2021 is a three-year action plan to provide every child access to great teachers, leaders, and resources. Key concepts for the plan were developed and shared by parents, teachers, children, administration, and the community at listening sessions throughout the year. The community listening sessions included more than 1,300 participants and produced more than 3,000 data points that helped focus areas of the plan and reflect the community’s values. This plan outlines broad goals and includes action steps and key performance indicators. The performance indicators will provide a scoreboard of how Hamilton County is progressing in each focus area and allow for regular updates to the board and community regarding progress.
  • There will be a presentation to the Board regarding updates and the status of the Opportunity Zone.

Field Trips:

  • Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts and Lookout Valley Middle/High School will send students to Washington, D.C. to learn social studies and about U.S. History and the capital.
  • Ooltewah High School, Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences Upper School, East Hamilton School, Red Bank High School, Sale Creek Middle/High School, Signal Mountain Middle/High School, Tyner Academy, and Brainerd High School will participate in sports related field trips.
  • Sequoyah High School will send students on a JROTC related field trip.

Bids/Contracts:

Board approval is sought for:

  • The contract to furnish labor and materials for electrical projects with funds to be provided by the Capital and Maintenance Budgets.
  • The contract for annual elevator inspection, repair, and the Preventative Maintenance Program with funds to be provided by the Capital and Maintenance Budgets.
  • The contract to furnish woodcarpet for the school system totally $1,765.00 with funds to be provided by the Operating and Capital Projects Budgets.
  • The contract to furnish and install VCT and rubber base with funds to be provided by the Maintenance Budget and Capital Projects Fund.
  • The contract to furnish and install aluminum walkway covers and canopies with funds to be provided by the Maintenance Budget and Capital Projects Fund.
  • The contract to relocate portable classrooms with funds to be provided by the Maintenance Budget and Capital Projects Fund.
  • The contract to furnish heating f at $3.50 per gallon with funds to be provided by the Operating Budget.
  • The contract to furnish propane fuel totalling $1.12 per gallon with funds to be provided by the Operating Budget.
  • The contract to furnish and install fencing with funds to be provided by the Capital Projects Fund.
  • The contract extension for the SY 2018-2019 School Nutrition Program for food and non-food supplies
  • The purchase EMS control equipment and supplies used for the operation of the HVAC equipment throughout the school system from Electronic Controls, Inc. and Automated Logic.
  • The renewal of the the contract with Harland Technology, a division of Scantron, for maintenance and support of ScanTools Scanners with funds to not exceed $30,000.00 and to be budgeted from the General Purpose Fund.
  • The renewal of the PowerSchool software maintenance, subscription and support contract with PowerSchool Group, LLC with funds not to exceed $229,606.50 and to be budgeted from the General Purpose Fund.
  • The renewal of the IBM SPSS software maintenance, subscription, and support contract with IBM Corp. with funds not to exceed $38,895.92 and to be budgeted from the General Purpose Fund.
  • The renewal of the ESRI software maintenance, subscription, and support contract with Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI) with funds not to exceed $12,250.00 and to be budgeted from the General Purpose Fund.
  • The contract with Public Consulting Group for goal progress monitoring systems, support, and the Special Transportation Wizard for the 2018-19 school year for continued use by the Exceptional Education Department with the EastIEP program. The PCG IEP Goal/Objective Progress Monitoring System and Support agreement will be paid for out of the IDEA, Part B funds and will cost $11,025.00. The continuation of the Transportation Wizard will cost $4,919.91 to be paid for out of the IDEA, Part B funds.
  • The Memorandum of Understanding with Centerstone Mental Health Centers, Inc to provide school-based mental health services in Hamilton County schools for students exhibiting significant emotional and behavioral challenges. HCDE will not be asked to pay for or bill for any services and will only be referring students based on needs. All funding is handled by Centerstone.
  • The contract with the City of Chattanooga Dept. of Youth & Family Development Head Start/Early Head Start Program to establish working procedures in the provision of services to preschool children eligible for special education in compliance with Federal and Tennessee State laws and regulations. No funds are needed or requested with this agreement.
  • The contract with Nova Southeastern University for autism training, professional, and systemic development activities for exceptional education teachers and staff totalling $24,100.00 with funds to be provided by the General Purpose Fund.
  • The contract with Signal Centers, Inc. for the 2018-19 school year Adult Services Program with funds not to exceed $17,000.00 and will be paid with Exceptional Education General Purpose funds.
  • The contract with Mose and Garrison Siskin Memorial Foundation, Inc. totalling $380.800.00 with funds to be provided by the Exceptional Education General Purpose Budget. This amount is already budgeted and no additional funds are required.
  • The contract with Parkridge Medical Centers, Inc., dba Parkridge Valley Hospital for therapeutic services for the 2018-2019 school year. The cost of this contract will not exceed $20,000.00 and will be paid with IDEA Part, B funds.
  • The contract with Stellar Therapy, LLC  for billing and related administrative fees related to Medicaid reimbursement for speech, language, occupational and physical therapies, and BCBA services. This contract will be at a rate of 20% of received Medicaid reimbursement and is to be paid from the Medicaid Reimbursement Self Funded Account no additional funds will be needed.
  • The contract with Stellar Therapy, LLC for speech and language, occupational, and physical therapy services as required by Individual Education Plans and supervised by Exceptional Education Administrators. This contract will be paid with a combination of funds from Medicaid Reimbursement, IDEA Part B, and the Exceptional Education General Purpose Budget funds. This contract should not exceed $2,181,347.00.
  • The contract with Signal Centers, Inc. for the 2018-2019 school year. The cost of services is $666,288.00 and will be paid with Exceptional Education General Purpose funds. Extended school year for 2017-2018 will be reimbursed at a rate of $55.00 per half-day participation and $110.00 per full day participation per student; these services will be paid with IDEA, Part B funds.
  • The contract with Orange Grove Center, Inc. for the 2018-2019 school year. Funds will not exceed $1,369,000 for up to 45 students and will be paid with Exceptional Education General Purpose funds. These funds are already budgeted and no additional funds are requested.
  • The renewal of PPO Medical Reinsurance with Blue Reinsurance Insurance Company of Tennessee and HMO Medical Reinsurance with CIGNA with an increase to the current stop loss level to $350,000.00 for both renewals.
  • The contract renewal with EBS Consulting for employee benefits and risk management totalling $3,716.00 per month for consulting services and $6,951.00 per month for risk management consulting services.
  • The renewal policies with the Standard Group for Life and Long Term Disability
  • Property and Casualty Insurance renewal
  • The ratification of emergency/early approval for the new Ooltewah High School soccer field totalling $745,000.00 with funds to be provided by the 2016-17 Capital Funds.
  • The ratification of emergency/early approval for the Hixson High School track modifications totalling $987,900.00 with funds to be provided by the 2017-18 Capital Funds
  • The ratification of emergency/early approval for the purchase of Smallware for School Nutrition operations totalling $16,215.38 and to furnish and install serving lines for Lookout Valley Middle/High School and East Ridge High School totalling $153,890.54 with funds to be provided by the School Nutrition Budget.
  • The purchase of motor fuel for May of 2018 totalling $18,320.00 with funds provided by the Warehouse Inventory Fund.  

Budget Amendments:

  • Board approval is needed to amend the FY18 General Purpose Operating Budget for transfers between accounts. These amendments reclassify existing budget appropriations between the organizations:
  • Transportation Department
  • Transportation-Public Carriers
  • Information Services
  • Operation of Maintenance
  • Board approval is needed to amend the FY18 School Nutrition Budget for transfers between accounts. These amendments reclassify existing budget appropriations between various accounts for items such as personnel, social security, medicare, food supplies, sanitation, and so forth.
  • The Administration is requesting acceptance and approval of the State awarded $100,000 for the FY19 CTE Perkins Reserve grant application. This application is for Future Ready Institutes of Hamilton County providing new skills for youth and college and career preparation through the launching of 20 Future Ready Institutes within 13 different county high school sin the fall of 2018.
  • Board approval is sought for the outstanding contractual obligations totalling $231,141.69 at June 30, 2018, for carryover into the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

Operations:

  • The Board will presented with the Hamilton County Department of Education’s Year-End Anti-Bullying Compliance Report for the 2017-2018 school year. There were a total of 203 reported and confirmed incidents of bullying and harassment, down from 322 cases by end of year 2016.
    • Staff Training: 2,171 employees were updated on bullying/harassment requirements and mandates, 3,458 completed Title IX compliance training, and 295 were trained in supportive school climate initiatives (ACES, Restorative Practices).
    • Student Training:  951 engaged in empathy-based Move2Stand Training, 19 high school teams (309 students) developed school-specific action plans during Superintendent’s Youth Summit, 239 students participated in Youth Conference with high school student facilitators conducting one break-out session, 1,439 5th graders signed “Kindness Matters” pledge; 232 recognized with “kindness award”, and 93 students trained as peer mediators; 35 documented mediations successfully conducted.
    • Community/Parent Engagement: 532 parents/community members, partners, etc., attended school strategies awareness sessions.

Administrative and Board Matters:

Board approval is sought for:

  • The approval for reinstatement of tenure status for the 2018-19 school year for the applicable teachers in the district.
  • The renewal agreement with Educator Software Solutions for the continuance of hosting, maintaining, and providing technical support of the customized Project Coach website (T-Eval), totalling $36,000.00 for the 2018-19 school year.
  • The use and maintenance agreement for the Smart Find Express system that is used to efficiency and cost effectively find substitute teachers for absentee teacher vacancies. This would total $34,129.60 annually and would be funded by the IT Department.  
  • The maintenance renewal for PeopleAdmin/SearchSoft Applicant Tracking System and the addition of new a product solution, Records Management for applicant and current employee resources and data. This would total $60,184.75 for the 2018-19 school year with funds to be jointly provided by the IT Department and Human Resources.
  • The adoption of Health/Wellness/PE textbooks as recommended by the Textbook Adoption Committee.
  • The use of Desktop Solutions, Simply Mac, and Stay Mobile as the three local, authorized dealers for MAC/iPad repairs for assistance with Apple products that are no longer under Apple warranty.
  • Board Chair, Dr. Highlander, will lead a discussion on Superintendent evaluation.
  • The acceptance of a donation from Commissioner Discretionary bond funds for the reimbursement of $7,950.00 to purchase Chromebooks for Hillcrest Elementary.

Legal Services: A total of $20,243.00 in legal fees was paid in the month of May to Benett & DeCamp, PLLC.

Events:

 

  • July 4, 2018 – Holiday, System Closed
  • July 19, 2018 – Board Meeting

 

 

The Devastating Impacts of Concentrated Poverty on Student Success

HCDE’s Equity Task Force has released data highlighting the striking link between the number of economically disadvantaged students in a school and those students’ success.

The data paints a dramatic picture.

We already know that students in schools of concentrated poverty face many challenges to success when they don’t receive the supports and resources they need. Seeing just how much that affects student success is sobering.

According to data from our school system, schools where half of the students are economically disadvantaged have a nearly 20% achievement gap in English Language Arts compared to students in schools with far fewer students living in poverty. That achievement gap gets 50% wider when 90% of students come from an economically disadvantaged background.

The achievement gap for economically disadvantaged students in both mathematics and overall ACT score tells a similar story.

The trend is clear – the higher the concentration of students living in poverty, the fewer students are finding success. If access to a quality education is to be the great equalizer that can allow individuals to break the cycle of poverty, we have to do better.

School Board Meeting Recording

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

May School Board Watch Blog 2018

In this edition of UnifiEd’s School Board Watch Blog, we will take a look at the agenda for the May 24th, 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 p.m. The meeting will be livestreamed by HCDE through their Facebook page and the recording will be posted here on the UnifiEd blog afterwards.

View the full agenda and supporting documents >

Hot Topics

  • Superintendent Dr. Johnson will recognize the outgoing Student Representative, Tyrese Jones, of UnifiEd’s Student Voice Team. Mr. Jones will introduce the newly elected Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council Chairperson (SSAC) for the 2018-2019 school year. Elected by their peers, the SSAC Chairperson serves as the Student Representative to the Hamilton County Board of Education.
  • Approval is sought for the renewal of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) for the 2018-19 SY to continue serving the same 39 schools as this current school year. The program anticipates continuing to provide breakfast and lunch meals at no cost to approximately 22,531 students at the 39 eligible schools across the District. This represents 49.75% of the total enrollment of students.
  • Board approval is sought for the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between HCDE and HCEA agreed upon by both sides in the Collaborative Conferencing session for the 2018-19 SY. As of result of collaborative conferencing, there as been an increase in the professional development compensation from $15 to $20 per hour, an applied 2.5% raise to the base generator of the salary scale, and a one-time $250 bonus. The 2.5% raise and $250 bonus were previously approved in the balanced budget.
  • Board Policy 3.501 Wellness Policy- Second and Final Reading: The 2010 Healthy Hungry-Free Kids Act requires each Local Education Agency (LEA) participating in the National School Lunch Program or other child nutrition programs to review our local school wellness policy annually. Current policy is being revised to include the promotion of healthy food choices and nutrition throughout the school and cafeterias, the marketing of healthy foods, and the encouraging of healthy snack options given to students during classroom celebration, parties, and student birthdays.

Recognitions, Presentations, and Delegations

  • Board member Kathy Lennon will present the the plaque recently awarded to HCDE by Tobacco Free Chattanooga through the Hamilton County Health Department.
  • An update of the New Teacher Academy will be presented to the board.
  • Jean Saunders of the American Heart Association will present Allen Elementary, Red Bank Elementary, and Westview Elementary Principals and Physical Education teachers  with plaques for the top schools for Jump Rope for Heart.
  • Spring Creek Elementary will be recognized for their fifth grade students collecting data  for GLOBE (Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment) since August 2017. NASA and NSF sponsors the GLOBE Program and it is supported by NOAA and US Department of State. GLOBE scientist, Dr. Tony Murphey, used the data collected from the fifth grade students for air and surface temperatures research. Spring Creek Elementary students were invited to participate in the Southeastern Regional Student Symposium. Spring Creek was the only elementary school invited. This distinction was given due to their consistent and accurate research findings.
  • Director of JROTC will present and recognize the student achievement and honors of JROTC Cadets who have garnered significant scholarships and/or national or state awards.

Field Trips

  • Central High School, East Ridge High School, Sale Creek Middle High School, Soddy Daisy High School, and Brainerd High School will participate in JROTC related field trip.
  • East Hamilton School will send students to participate in arts, music, and theatre related field trips.
  • Hixson High School, Signal Mountain Middle High School, Soddy Daisy High School, and Brainerd High School will participate in sports related field trips.
  • Hunter Middle School will send students to Washington, D.C. to study American history.
  • Loftis Middle School and Orchard Knob Elementary will send members of the Beta Club to attend the National Beta Convention and the National Junior Beta Club Convention.
  • Red Bank High School quiz bowl members will attend the National Academic Quiz Bowl Championships.
  • Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts will send members of the Destination Imagination team to attend the Destination Imagination Global Finals.
  • Hixson High School will send students to attend Camp Clements.
  • CSAS Upper and Signal Mountain Middle High School will send students to compete in the TSA National Conference.

Bids/Contracts

Board approval is sought for:

  • The contract extension to furnish HP Print Cartridges effective from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2020 with funding to be provided by the Operating and Schools Budget.
  • The contract extension for laminating film and maintenance on machines effective from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 with funding to be provided by the Operating and Schools Budget.
  • The contract to service fire extinguishers and kitchen hood suppressions systems with funds to be provided by the Maintenance and Operating Budget.
  • The contract for asbestos abatement for the school system with funds to be provided by the Maintenance and Operating Budget and Capital Funds.
  • The contract for grease trap and interceptor pumping and cleaning with funds to be provided by the School Nutrition Budget.
  • The yearly bid contracts for School Year 2018-2019 including: instructional, library, and office materials and supplies, P.E. and athletic equipment and supplies, science equipment materials and supplies, chartered coach carrier service for student field trips, instructional computer software, German reading and teaching materials, and medical and first aid equipment and supplies. All funds for these contracts will come from the Operating and School Budgets.
  • The contract extension for solid waste collection, removal, and disposal effective from July 1. 2018 to June 30, 2019 totalling $393,944.80 with funds to be provided by the Operating Budget.
  • The renewal of the annual contract for asbestos in compliance with AHERA for environmental consulting services with Helton totalling $89,292.00.
  • The contract extension for routine roof repairs and replacement effective July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 with funds to be provided by the Operating and Maintenance and Capital Projects Budgets.
  • The contract with Chattanooga State for the Graduation Diploma Completion Program not to exceed $183,000.00.
  • The purchase of motor fuel totalling $18,000.00 with funds coming from the Warehouse Inventory Fund.
  • The purchase of Pre-K curriculum from Teaching Strategies, LLC totaling $131,174.96. Currently our Pre-K teachers are using a curriculum that is over 10 years old that no longer aligns with the state’s Early Learning Standards. A team of teachers, administrators, directors, and community members found the proposed curriculum provides a comprehensive curricula to meet the needs of students while being the state’s number one Pre-Kindergarten curriculum on the state’s recently released approved curriculum list. It has also been purchased by the City of Chattanooga to use in their Pre-K programs in order to align Pre-K learning across the district.

Conferences and Consultants

Board approval is sought for:

  • The use of two consultants with funds to be provided by the Federal Partnership Model Grant and the Partnership Agreement with the State.

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
  • Title II, Teacher & Principal Training & Recruitment, with transfers between line items
  • Safe Schools, with transfers between line items
  • Title III, English Language Acquisition, with transfers between line items
  • Title IV Part A, Student Support and Academic Enrichment, with transfers between line items
  • Priority Schools State Grant, totaling $670,384.00
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers (Year 1, Year 4, and Year 5), with transfers between line items
  • Read To Be Ready Coaching, with an increase of $200.00
  • Read To Be Ready Summer, with transfers between line items
  • Carl Perkins Vocational, with transfers between line items
  • Bible History Teachers Self-Funded Program, with a net increase of $3,830.00
  • Nursing Services Self-Funded Program, with transfers between line items
  • Maintenance Recyclables Self-Funded Program, with a net increase of $933.00
  • HR Planning Projects Self-Funded Program, totaling $65,000.00
  • CampK Self-Funded Program, totaling $187,600.00
  • FRI Externship Self-Funded Program, totaling $100,000.00
  • HCEA Representative Self-Funded Program, with a net increase of $1,095.00
  • Future Ready Institutes Self-Funded Program, totaling $6,400.00
  • Photography Commission Self-Funded Program, with a net increase of $16,842.00
  • Hamilton County Virtual School Self-Funded Program, with a net increase of $7,500.00
  • School Paid Positions Self-Funded Program, with a net increase of $275,863.00
  • Supplemental Salaries Self-Funded Program, with a net decrease of $37,481.00
  • PEF Projects Self-Funded Program, totaling $1,000.00

Additional approval is sought for:

  • The amending of the FY2018 General Purpose Operating Budget to appropriate the additional State and Local Revenue received. There is a total revenue increase of $6,733,734.00 allocated for contracts, supplies and materials, salaries and benefits, and so forth.
  • The proceeds from the sale of East Brainerd Elementary School to be appropriated to the Capital Maintenance Fund to be used primarily for renovations related to the safety and security of school buildings. Proceeds from the sale totaled $4,227,793.07.
  • The grant application from UTC for the National Science Foundation Grant for Gig City: Creating an Inclusive 21st Century Gig-Enabled Teaching and Learning Community for a total of $281,003.00.

Opportunity Zone

  • Board approval is sought for a grant to design a learning model for the new Howard Middle School. The District believes that the new Howard Middle School can be an innovative educational model showcasing forward-thinking instructional design, strong leadership and active student engagement which may introduce socioeconomic diversity to the feeder pattern. HCDE has been advised that in order to maximize design planning, an administrator should be hired a year before the school opens to work in partnership with 2Rev in the development of the instructional plan, recruit students and faculty, consult on building renovations, and build a strong curriculum. Benwood would like to support the work by providing up to $242,000.00 to the District which will cover the design assistance through the first two phases, learning trips for the local design team, and hiring the educational leader early.  
  • Approval is sought for the hiring of nine Full Time Employees (FTEs). One will be an Associate Principal at Howard Middle one year in advance of the school’s opening in August of 2019 to help with planning and design. A Math Curriculum Facilitator will be for Brainerd High School, Dalewood Middle School, and Orchard Knob Middle School. Two Community Schools Specialists will be for Brainerd High School and Woodmore Elementary School (one for each). Two Behavior Specialists will be for Orchard Knob Middle School and Woodmore Elementary (one for each). Brainerd High School will have the remaining two positions, one for a Night School Educational Assistant and one for a Night School Teacher.

Administrative and Board Matters

Board approval is sought for:

  • The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and HCDE regarding the employment of off-duty Sheriff’s Deputies as independent contractors to provide security and other related support for HCDE at board meetings, hearings, and any other meeting where the public is invited.
  • The agreement between HCDE and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office for additional School Resources Officers (SROs) effective July 1st, 2018 through June 30, 2020. This agreement would provide two SROs, one for Orchard Knob Middle School and one for Hixson Middle School.
  • The adaptation of the 2019-2020 proposed school calendar that takes into consideration community feedback in the form of 8,600 surveys. Community feedback showed majority support for maintaining a week long fall break, a short week for Thanksgiving, and a spring break that is attached to the Good Friday and/or Easter holiday.

Legal Services

A total of $18,125.50 in legal fees was paid in the month of April to Benett & DeCamp, PLLC.

 

 

2018-2019 HCDE Budget: What You Need to Know

Dr. Johnson recently presented the operating budget for the Hamilton County Department of Education for 2018-2019.

Last year we called for the school board to focus on transparency in the new budget, in addition to finding efficiencies in spending. We are happy to see that the budget started $1 million less than the previous year, and are happy to see an overall increase in efficiency and transparency in this years budget.

Another thing we called for was a multi-year budget. While a full multi-year budget still remains to be seen, the board did include 3 year projections for the budget, which is the first time that they’ve done that. Overall, we feel the board is moving in the right direction with the budget!

Here are some resources to help you get more acquainted with the budget:

Digital Copy of the Budget

Dr. Johnson’s Budget Presentation

Budget Explainer Video from HCDE

The Story of the APEX Project

We wanted to take the opportunity to share a more in-depth look at the history of the APEX Project and the methods we employed to gain understanding from our community. The following video does a nice job of coalescing the first 6 months of the community input process that gathered the experiences of diverse community members from all over Hamilton County.

Learn more about the process that drove the priorities identified in the APEX Project Report!

The Pocket Guide that Alexa mentioned

The APEX Project Report

See where your 2018 school board candidates stand on education issues in Hamilton County!

 

At the heart of our community organizing work at UnifiEd is the mission to empower Hamilton County community members to use their voice to drive change. In this election year, our goal is to provide the information and channels you need to cast an informed vote for the school board candidate who shares your values and vision for excellence in our schools. We invited candidates to share their vision with voters in two ways:

Click on a name to view that candidate’s responses.

 

District 3 Candidates

Miracle Hurley

Joe Smith

District 5 Candidates

Karitsa Mosley Jones

Challenger Ann Pierre has not responded to the questionnaire.

District 6 Candidates

Michael Henry

Jenny Hill

District 8 Candidates

Tucker McClendon

Incumbent David Testerman has not responded to the questionnaire.

District 9 Candidates

D’Andre Anderson

Dr. Steve Highlander

 


Don’t know your district?

Find your district and elected officials

School Board Recording: April 19, 2018

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

The APEX Project Report Has Been Published!

The UnifiEd team is excited to announce the completion and publication of the APEX Project report. This report details the work that has been accomplished thus far and what to expect from the APEX Action Teams, the implementation phase of the APEX Project, moving forward.

A printed version of the report will be available soon, but you can download the digital version now.

Download the APEX Project Report Now

We are eager to continue this important work with the community in order to affect positive change in Hamilton County.

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 >