School Board Recording: August 17, 2017

The HCDE School Board met on August 17, 2017, to discuss matters concerning the upcoming school year. You can watch the meeting by clicking the “play” button on the video below!

Superintendent Finalist Candidates Interview Videos

Five superintendent candidates visited Hamilton County last week for final interviews and site visits. The school board will vote on the candidates to select a new superintendent at this week’s school board meeting. The community is encouraged to share your input on which candidate you want to see become the next leader of Hamilton County public education. You can watch recordings of the interviews below and contact your school board member before they vote on Thursday, June 15.

The board will meet to discuss the candidates at 5:00 on June 15 at the Department of Education (3074 Hickory Valley Road). The regular board meeting and vote on the candidates will start at 5:30. Both meetings are open to the public.

Find your board member and their contact info >

Dr. Wayne Johnson final interview

Stuart Greenberg final interview

Dr. Timothy Gadson final interview

Dr. Bryan Johnson final interview

Dr. Kirk Kelly final interview

Find your school board member & contact info

School Board Recap – May 2017


The full May 18, 2017 school board meeting was recorded – watch the video here

Awards and Recognitions

  • HCDE Chief Academic Officer Jill Levine recognized Hamilton County High School teacher Rachel Turner for receiving the Outstanding Humanities Educators Award.
  • Colonel Tom McConnell recognized JROTC cadets and units with exceptional academic achievements and scholarship awards. The cadets recognized received scholarship awards totaling $4.5 million.
  • Margaret Abernathy from the Exceptional Education Department announced the renaming of the PALS Center to the Amy Piazza PALS Center in honor of the devoted late teacher Amy Piazza.
  • Cathy Jennings, the 2017 Southeast Regional Coordinator for RN School Health, was recognized by Sheryl Fletcher for her work to promote student health and wellness.


  • Dan Liner from Hamilton County Educators Association recognized the celebration of teachers in the month of May
  • Tennessee State Representative JoAnne Favors spoke on behalf of the delegation representing the community of the five schools being considered for a “partnership zone” within the school district. She stated that the there is not sufficient data to support moving forward with a partnership zone and suggested it could be a civil rights issue to do so due to de facto segregation of these majority African-American schools. Favors called for the board to postpone commiting to a partnership zone for at least one year in order to gather more data and involve the community in the discussion. She announced the creation of the Chattanooga Public School Coalition, which is currently organizing to address the partnership zone debate on behalf of the community.

The April 20 board meeting minutes were approved, as was the consent agenda.

Several field trips were approved. Board member Rhonda Thurman raised concern that no administrators were scheduled to be on these overnight trips and suggested exploration of a policy modification that would require an administrator be present on every overnight field trip.

Campus report

Superintendent selection process and plan – A plan and timeline was proposed and adopted for narrowing the list of superintendent candidates and making a final selection. A community involvement component calls for community forums with each finalist candidate when they are in town for final interviews. View the full plan here

Chairman Highlander said Coleman Lew (search firm) indicated the board should not expect reference letters to be entirely candid as they are open to public record.

Board member Karitsa Jones advocated for having a standardized list of questions for candidates in finalist interviews.

The board voted to table the vote of a contract related to contract bus drivers due to changes in the contract language related to driver penalties following the board’s review and discussion.

Board attorney Scott Bennett presented a revision to the board’s remote participation policy. The board voted to allow board members to participate in meetings electronically if unable to be physically present up to two times per school year.



Superintendent Selection Plan Announced

The school board voted at its May 18, 2017 meeting to adopt a “working roadmap” for the process and timeline for the selection of a new school superintendent by mid-June 2017. 

UnifiEd has called for a plan for more than a year that involves the community and is pleased that the adopted plan includes:

  • Community forums with each finalist candidate, and
  • Suggested meetings in each district for constituents to share feedback on the candidates with their Board Member.

The board agreed that the plan is subject to change as necessary and appropriate. Chairman Highlander will appoint at least three board members to lead the implementation of this roadmap.

Superintendent Selection Process

May 22 – First-round interviews via Skype are completed.

May 23 – Reference packets available for review by Board.

May 25 – Board will deliberate and vote on top 5 candidates. 5 candidates will be chosen with weighted scores. Top 5
lists will be provided in alphabetical order with each mention receiving one point. If there is a tie for
the fifth position, a ballot will be taken with just the two final candidates.

May 25 – June 5 – Community meetings are suggested for Board Members to hear from constituents. Handout on each of the
Top 5 will be provided. (The decision whether to hold a meeting, and its planning and logistics, are up to individual Board member.)

June 5 – 9 – Finalist candidates travel to Chattanooga for face-to-face interviews and community forums.

Proposed Components of the Daily Schedule
• 90-minute session with the full Board. If the Board desires to work from a unified set of questions, then
a process needs to be determined to identify the questions.
• Following that session, the candidate will be available to meet with individual Board members. Suggest
20 minutes.
• Candidates will visit two schools for a prearranged meeting with principals, teachers, parents, students
and community stakeholders from the site of the school and schools in the surrounding area.
• Candidates will take part in a meet-and-greet session with elected officials and advocacy group
leadership. A group should be identified to host these sessions.
• Candidates participate in a Community Forum for 90 minutes. All community members are invited to
attend. It is recommended that the events be hosted by a central organization (i.e. Hamilton County
PTA), and not the School Board. Locations for the forums will be decided by the Board while the hosting
organization will be responsible for planning the event, soliciting questions, asking questions and
moderating onsite Q&A. A media availability will take place for 20 minutes before the Forum.
• The 90-minute session with the Board and the Community Forums will be live streamed and available
for the public to watch via the system’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

June 15 – School Board deliberates and selects the new superintendent. Ballots will be taken until one
candidate receives a minimum of five votes.

School board recap – April 2017

The full April 20, 2017 school board meeting was recorded via Facebook Live – watch the recording here. (The budget discussion begins at around 2:41 into the video.)

The April 20, 2017 regularly scheduled school board meeting began with a number of recognitions and presentations detailed here. Principal Uras Agee of Brainerd High School then gave an iZone update. He reviewed the Explorers program for early college and career skills building. Another career exploration program at Brainerd High is Go Build TN, which educates students on career opportunities and income potential for construction related jobs. Agee reviewed their continuous school improvement plan.

Public comment followed from several delegations:

1. Future Ready Librarians – Debbie Condry, Cristol Kapp, and Ann Rox presented on the work local librarians are doing around digital literacy.
2. Dan Liner from HCEA – He recognized teachers present at the meeting who support increased funding. “The status quo funding is simply not sufficient,” he stated. His call for increased funding focused on key areas of the requested additions: literacy coaches and materials and technology.
3. Representative of HC Principals Assoc. – The Association met recently seeking to identify three areas from which HCDE’s increased funds could be cut. He reports that the principals were not able to find one area they agreed could afford to be cut from the request. Top priorities for increase from principals’ perspective are technology, teacher pay, facility upgrades, professional development, ELL population support, and educating parents to best support kids.
4. Tyrese Jones, CCA student, spoke about the scholarship he has received and great education he’s benefitted from, but wanted to remind the board that not every student in the county has equitable access to the same quality of education that he has received. He called for an increase in funds to support all students in our community equitably.
5. Sara Boyd, another CCA student, spoke passionately about specific stories illustrating underfunding, including her English teacher having spent $1,000 of her personal money on classroom materials since August, as the school system only provides $100 per teacher, per year for supplies. “The stakes are too high for the budget to be this low,” she said. She also called for the board to approve increased funding.
6. Catherine Melissa – Local parent called for the board and county to prioritize education funding and asked for multi-year budget.

The March 16 meeting minutes were approved, as was the consent agenda.

As the board prepared to vote for the 2018 budget proposed by Dr. Kelly at the previous week’s finance committee meeting, board member Joe Smith offered comment on the requested budget increase of $33.5 million. He said he is “convinced increased funding is necessary,” and he called the list of programs those funds would support a needs list, not a wish list.

He motioned to table the vote to allow Dr. Kelly and his staff to return with a balanced budget and an addendum with the list of needed additions in prioritized tiers. Joe Wingate seconded the motion.

Board member Karitsa Jones said, “We’re not talking about boxes of product. We’re talking about lives. If we don’t start investing in them now, we’re going to lose a generation. I’m not voting to table this because I live in a district with kids who need everything on this list and more.”

Board Chairman Steve Highlander summarized, “We don’t have drastic wants, we have drastic needs.” He touched on lack of supplies funds, talented teachers leaving, priority schools “to deal with”, lack of workforce readiness.

Yes votes to table were cast by board members Robinson, Smith, Thurmond, Wingate, Highlander. The vote will resume at a special session next Thursday, April 27 at 5:00 p.m.

The meeting concluded with the board approving the board meeting schedule for 2017-18 (proposed by Dr. Kelly), approving a series of contracts amendments, and approving a community schools pilot program.

School Board Watch Blog: March 2017

In this edition of UnifiEd’s School Board Watch Blog, we will take a look at the agenda for the March 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 tweet @UnifiEdHC, follow along at #HCSchools.

To see the entire agenda with supporting documents click here.

Hot Topics:

  • iZone and Strategic Plan Update: Interim Superintendent Kirk Kelly will give an iZone update at the start of the school board meeting. Beginning last year, HCDE created a Strategic Plan draft for the 2017 year and Dr. Kelly will also give an update on its progress. This plan had a detailed focus on better supporting iZone schools.

Recognitions and Presentations:

  • Student School Board Member D’Andre Anderson will give a presentation on the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council (SSAC) participation in two conferences this school year. He will show a video and provide a summary of the highlights of the 15th Annual Student SPEAK Out Conference and TSBA SCOPE Conference.
  • The principal at Lookout Valley Elementary School will recognize the Robojackets Robot Team who won first place in the Project Presentation in the Regional Competitions, first place for the Champion’s Award in the Super Regional Competition, second place for the Champion’s Award in the Georgia State Tournament, and will attend the World Competition in May.


  • The Band Director at Signal Mountain Middle/High School will be representing Hamilton County performing arts teachers to address the board regarding securing funding and support for Performing Arts in Hamilton County Schools. While performing arts classes require money for instruments, equipment, music, props, lighting, audio equipment, transportation, uniforms, costumes and assistant instructors, Hamilton County does not currently provide any funding for these programs.

Field Trips

  • CCA will send students to the Tennessee YMCA Youth in Government Tri-Star Conference.
  • Collegiate High will send students to attend the Southern Regional Honors Council Conference.
  • Soddy Daisy High School will participate in the JROTC field trip.
  • Lookout Valley Middle/High School and Signal Mountain Middle/High School students will travel to Washington, D.C. for a capital tour and study of American history.
  • Soddy Daisy High School Student Council will participate in the 2017 TASC Convention.
  • CCA musical theatre, acting, and vocal students will travel to New York City for professional exposure and master classes with Broadway professionals.
  • Signal Mountain Middle/High School, East Hamilton Middle/High School, Ooltewah High School, and Sale Creek Middle/High School will participate in sports related field trips.
  • Soddy Daisy High School Forensics Team will compete in the National Qualifier Forensics Tournament, Smoky Mountain Forensics Invitational, and the District Forensics Tournament.
  • Ooltewah High School will send chorus students to perform at Dollywood Amusement Park.
  • Soddy Daisy High School will participate in the TSSAA State Wrestling Tournament.
  • East Hamilton School will participate in a music related field trip.
  • Signal Mountain Middle/High and CCA will participate in a music related field trips.
  • Normal Park Museum Magnet Upper School, CSAS Lower, and East Lake Academy will send student to conduct field study at 4H Centers.
  • Soddy Daisy High School band students will participate in the TN Tech Honor Band.


  • Board approval is requested for the Knox County Procurement Division to award Presentation Solutions, Inc. for printing systems and supplies including installation, setup and, initial on-site training.
  • The Cooperative Purchasing Network (TCPN) recently merged with the National Intergovernmental Purchasing Alliance Company (National IPA).The combined merger will aim to provide a more robust contract portfolio to education institutions and government entities and it is recommended that HCDE authorize the school system to continue participation with the merged entities National IPA/TCPN since it received good service from TCPN before the merger.
  • It is recommended that HCDE authorize the school system to participate in the Goodbuy Cooperative Purchasing Program to allow qualified members to purchase goods and services in an efficient, cost effective, and competitive procurement method. Any agreements may be terminated by program members at any time with written notice to Goodbuy.
  • Lee McDade is requesting approval of the amendment to the tabulation sheet for furnishing and installing cooking equipment for various schools. A mistake was made on the original tabulation sheet the Gas Combi Oven, Double Stack, Convotherm Model C4 ED 6.20GS awarded to Strategic Equipment, LLC. The tabulation sheet showed a strategic unit price of $26,467.17, but the correct unit price should be $28,467.17.
  • Approval is sought to purchase texts and resources from Pioneer Valley Books in excess of $10,000 to better support early literacy instruction. Funding for these purchases will be provided through the General Purpose account and Federal Programs.
  • Emergency approval is sought for the partial re-roofing of the Orchard Knob Middle School 6th grade wing. The existing roof has extensive leaks and is beyond repair and the replacement needs to occur as soon as possible. The recommendation is to accept Porter Roofing for the amount of $165,400.00.
  • It is recommended that fuel and gasoline for the school system is purchased from Sweetwater Valley Oil Company totalling $13,932.00.

Business and Finance:

  • Approval is being sought for teachers and administrators to attend the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD Empower 17) conference in Anaheim California to learn and exchange information in curriculum and instruction. Administrators may be participating in this conference, in addition to teachers, which would make the attendance for HCDE collectively exceed $10,000.00.  Funding sources for this request might include, but are not limited to, Federal Title I, and Federal Title II.
  • The Principal at Orchard Knob Middle School is seeking to enter into a contract with Dr. Shirley Kilgore to aid in professional development for staff. This would be a total of $4,500.00 from their school based School Improvement Grant budget.
  • Approval is being sought for Teachers, Administrators, and other staff members to attend the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in San Antonio Texas to learn and exchange information in the field of educational technology. The potential addition of administrators and other staff members participating in this conference would make the attendance for HCDE collectively exceed $10,000.00.  Funding sources for this request might include, but are not limited to, General Purpose, Federal Title I, and Federal Title II.

Budget Amendments

The following budget amendments for Federal Grants and Self-Funded Programs for FY 2017 are recommended for approval:

  • Title III, English Language Acquisition, with transfers between line items and a net increase of $3,404
  • Family Resource Center Grant, with transfers between line items
  • IDEA Preschool, with transfers between line items and a net increase of $9,917

Board approval is needed to amend the FY17 General Purpose Operating Budget for the transfers between accounts for health services, exceptional education, and information technology. Additionally, approval is needed to amend the FY17 School Nutrition budget for the transfers between accounts for healthcare, personnel, and equipment.

Administrative and Business Matters:

  • Board Policy 4.210 Credit Recovery-1st Reading: This policy states that the director of schools shall ensure that credit recovery facilitators receive training regarding course organization, online instruction management and related technology. Credit recovery teachers shall comply with all State Board of Education certification requirements. Students will be eligible for credit recovery if they get written consent from a parent/guardian or previously taken an initial, non‐credit recovery section of the proposed course and received a grade of at least 50%.
  • Board Policy 4.211 Work Based Learning Program-1st Reading: This policy states that students shall have access to a system of structured work-based learning (WBL) experiences that allow them to apply classroom theories to practical problems as well as explore career options.  The director of schools shall develop administrative procedures to govern the efficient administration of the WLB program. Such procedures shall include, among other things, a process for evaluation and assessment of the program to ensure that it is of high quality and meets the needs of students.
  • Board Policy 4.606 Graduation Requirements-1st Reading: Graduation requirements are being updated to say that before high school graduation, every student must achieve the specified units of credit, take the required end of course exams, have satisfactory records of attendance and conduct, take the ACT or SAT in the 11th grade, and successfully complete a United States civics test. In addition requirements for early or special education graduation are detailed in the new policy.
  • Board Policy 4.607 Graduation Activities-1st Reading: Policy has been updated to now say that graduation ceremonies and all activities included shall not be religious in nature. The content of any students’ speeches shall not reflect the endorsement, sponsorship, position, or expression of the school, employees, or the board. Additionally principals shall ensure that students graduating with distinction, state honors, or voluntarily completed at least 10 hours of community service each semester are recognized at graduation.
  • Board Policy 5.117 Procedures for Granting Tenure-1st Reading: A revision is being made to procedure granting tenure. Now the superintendent will recommend persons eligible for tenure at a board meeting with enough time to give notice of non-renewal to each teacher or educator not granted tenure within five (5) business days following the last instructional day of the school year.
  • Board Policy 6.205 Student Assignments-1st Reading: Students, including those in kindergarten, shall attend the school to which they are assigned. Principals shall be responsible for assigning students to classrooms based on records. Additionally, principals shall separate an alleged victim of child sexual abuse from an alleged perpetrator if the abuse allegedly occurred while the child was under the supervision or care of the school.
  • Board Policy 6.413 Prevention and Treatment of Sports Related Concussions-1st Reading: This policy makes arrangements for faculty, staff, athletic directors, and coaches (employed or volunteer) to manidorialy receive training on how to treat and prevent concussions. Additionally, it says a child showing symptoms of a concussion during an athletic activity must immediately be removed from the activity and analyzed by a licensed healthcare professional.
  • Board Policy 6.415 Student Suicide Prevention-1st Reading: All school certified staff must attend a suicide identification and prevention education training. This policy corresponds with and supports other federal, state and local efforts to provide youth with prevention education, early identification and intervention, and access to all local resources to promote health and prevent personal harm or injury.
  • Board Policy 6.505 Students in Foster Care-1st Reading: The Hamilton County School System shall provide all students in foster care, to include those awaiting foster care placement, with a free and appropriate public education. This policy include provisions for placement, enrollment, and transportation of foster students to schools.
  • Legal Services: For the month of February, $19,213.50 was spent on legal services from Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan PLLC.

Board Matters:

  • Approval sought for all teachers who satisfactorily completed their probationary period and met the evaluation score requirements in accordance with TCA to be awarded tenure.
  • Interim Superintendent, Dr. Kirk Kelly, is seeking approval for a continuation of a traditional summer four-day work week, which runs Monday through Thursday for 10 hours daily. This schedule would begin the week of May 29, and conclude with July 28 being the last Friday closure and would apply to Central Office employees and school-based administrators. The mandatory Friday closures across the district will result in an energy-based cost-savings (utility and fuel) of roughly $165,000.

Important Dates and Events

  • March 17th, 2017: Teach Professional Development, No Students
  • March 20th-24th, 2017: Spring Break
  • March 31st, 2017: Report Cards
  • April 5th, 2017: Kindergarten Registration
  • April 13th, 2017: Finance Committee Meeting
  • April 20th, 2017: School Board Meeting


School Board Recap: February 2017

Before the regularly scheduled school board session, a facilities meeting was called to discuss the title transfer of the East Ridge High School Athletics Complex to the City of East Ridge. Additionally, at the request of the County Commission, Lee McDade put together a list of facilities that needed investment and separated these needs into four categories: (1) Need for Facility, (2) Building Need, (3) Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Need, and (4) Athletic. During the remaining time, the board discussed long-term sustainability projects, the use of building space for Pre-Kindergarten, transportation, class size growth, and the importance of engaging with the County Commission on budget priorities and planning.  

The regular session began with several presentations including a story about a young boy from Mexico and his dedication to learning, honoring the Spelling Bee winners from Orchard Knob Middle, recognizing a senior with 13 years of perfect attendance, and improvements being made at iZone schools. Additionally, a representative from Dalewood Elementary presented UnifiEd’s video highlighting their school and discussed the progresses that were being made.

The HCDE leadership team gave updates on the Strategic Plan around two work areas, “Great Teachers, Great Leaders” and “Engage Every Child, Every Day.” Within the Great Teachers report, they discussed the February launch of a teacher mentorship program, improvements to teacher professional development through a choice-based model, and stronger partnerships with UTC. Within the Engage Every Child report, there were examples given of schools that were personalizing learning, developing science labs with a focus on hands on learning, and creating computer science training opportunities for elementary schools.

HCDE announced that Volkswagen has released an RFP to put $1 million dollars into schools seeking to innovate and learn through design thinking processes. There will be 8 schools awarded in August and 7 the following year. After the consent agenda was approved, the board approved to change the phone system for HCDE, sell the East Ridge High Athletic Property to the city of East Ridge, and a proposal for the board to talk directly with bus drivers to continue the discussion around transportation.

Each board member prioritized Harrison Elementary, CSLA, and East Hamilton Middle High as schools needing new buildings. They also identified Snow Hill Elementary, Howard, Spring Creek Creek, Lookout Valley Middle High, Central High, and Hixson High as in need of additions. The meeting ended with Tiffany Robinson discussing the protest that day in the Latino community resulting from Federal level action. She emphasized that we need to remind these families that they belong, are part of our community, and that central staff is working hard to ensure they feel welcome.

School Board Watch Blog: January 2017

In this edition of UnifiEd’s School Board Watch Blog, we will take a look at the agenda for the January 19th 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:

  • 1st Semester Bullying Report: Dr. McDade and Karen Glenn will give a presentation on the Hamilton County bullying report for last semester. This report details how many confirmed cases of bullying were found and resulting disciplinary actions. In addition, they will go over goals to decrease bullying including targeting leadership trainings and bullying prevention efforts.
  • iZone Update: Interim Superintendent Kirk Kelly will give an iZone update. Beginning last year, HCDE created a Strategic Plan draft for the 2017 year. This plan had a detailed focus on better supporting iZone schools.

Field Trips

  • Hixson High School will send students to the TN Future Farmers of America State Convention.
  • Red Bank High School will have students compete in the Student Television Network Convention.
  • East Hamilton Middle High School and Ooltewah High School will send students to participate in the Special Olympics Winter Games.
  • Central High School and Soddy Daisy High School will participate in sports field trips.
  • Loftis Middle School will send students to Washington, D.C. for hands on learning of content related material.
  • Ooltewah High School, Soddy Daisy High School, and Red Bank High School will participate in music field trips.
  • Ooltewah High School will participate in a dance field trip.
  • Red Bank High School will send JROTC students to compete in the 7th BDE Academic/Rifle/Drill Championships.
  • Signal Mountain Middle High School will send the robotics team to compete in the High School Robotics Team Regional Competition.
  • Soddy Daisy High School will send the environmental club to compete in the NOSB Team Competition.


  • Approval sought for the venders BRESCO, Strategic Equipment LLC, and MSA Digital to purchase equipment for the School Nutrition Program including cooking equipment, a freezer, and a copier printer.
  • Approval sought for the demolition of the Old East Lake Elementary School by Complete Demolition Services, LLC totaling $262,000.00 from the Capital Budget.
  • Approval to purchase new plumbing materials for Lakeside Academy from Wholesale Supply Group Inc. totalling $12,167.80 from the Capital Budget.
  • Attorney Scott Bennett and the Title IX legal consultant, Courtney Bullard, have recommended that all faculty and staff participate in required professional Title IX training. HCDE has obtained three quotes.  Partnership is not the least expensive; however, they best fit our needs and expectations for Title IX training. The on-line training will cost $37,500 for 6,250 employees and the funds will come from Human Resources.
  • The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office was recently awarded a federal COPS grant which allowed the funding for the placement of officers in local schools. As a condition of that grant, the Sheriff’s Office must have a MOU in place which will cover the entire grant period requiring an amendment to the original agreement between the Board of Education and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.

Recognitions and Presentations:

  • Recognitions will be made to several gifted teachers for their recent awards and accomplishments: Lindsey Glass, winner of the Jo Patterson Distinguished Service Award, Kelly Davis, winner of the Teacher of the Year Award, Lauren Lindsey, winner of the Horizon Award, Ty Campbell, teacher conference presenter in the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), Lorri Whitney, co-president of Tennessee Association for the Gifted (TAG), and Tara Strang, co-President of Tennessee Association for the Gifted (TAG) and presenter at the National Association for the Gifted (NAGC).
  • David Cowan will be giving an update the Volkswagen Mechatronics Akademie and Chattanooga Polytechnic Academy. Volkswagen America has allocated funds to establish a scholarship fund to support students in the Mechatronics Academy. The funds will be distributed through the Community Foundation and will be available to support cost not covered through the Dual Enrollment Grant. The Chattanooga Polytechnic Academy continues work group meeting, looking at funding possibilities, developing marketing materials, and discussing staffing.

Business and Finance:

  • The Principal at The Howard School is requesting a total of $4,500.00 from their school based Title I budget to contract with Dr. Shirley Kilgore. The recommended consultant will provide professional development for the following areas: positive behavior intervention, support training with at-risk students, support PBIS and school safety, increase attendance and reduce suspension rate, and increase academic growth as outlined in their school improvement plan.
  • Christie N. Jordan, Assistant Superintendent of Finance, will give a presentation of the monthly financial report comparing actual year-to-date expenditures to the original adopted budget through November 2016.

Budget Amendments

The following budget amendments for Federal Grants and Self-Funded Programs for FY2017 are recommended for approval:

  • School Improvement Grant Cohort III for IZONE District, totalling $231,782.
  • School Improvement Grant Cohort III for IZONE Schools, totalling $1,007,532.
  • Focus Schools, totalling $108,461 for school improvement.
  • National Science Foundation Project Inspire, with a net increase of $32,309.
  • Perkins IV Reserve Vocational Self-Funded Program, totaling $24,909.
  • Benwood Foundation Self-Funded Program, with a net increase of $50,000.
  • Service Fund Self-Funded Program, totaling $3,000.      

Human Resources:

  • Approval sought for two new positions paid through Federal Programs and both until end-of-year only. These positions are a Dean of Students (Temporary with Benefits) for East Ridge High School and a Graduation Coach (Part-Time / No Benefits) for Howard High School.

Board Matters:

  • Accepted donation made by Commissioner Beck totalling $2,500 to purchase books for Hillcrest Elementary School.
  • The Maclellan Foundation donated a recreational vehicle that had been converted to a mobile computer lab. The iZone Department used this lab for their schools for over a year but no longer uses this vehicle, so they are requesting approval to deed the vehicle to the Bethlehem Center to use in the community.
  • Approval sought for textbook committees to work on selecting curriculum resources. The committees will work over the course of the next three months to to begin the work in January 2017.
  • A request for ratification of early approval to accept $500,000 of bond funds for the Central High School / Brown Middle School track. The County Commission added this to their agenda as well.

Administrative and Business Matters

  • Approval sought for the ABM Custodial Contract 11 month extension. It was discussed at the Finance Committee Meeting on January 11, 2017 to request ABM to extend their contract by 11 months in lieu of 2 years as stipulated in the contract and the ABM has agreed to this extension.
  • The board will review two students’ zero tolerance suspension appeal decision per request of the parents.
  • For the month of December, HCDE paid $23,311.00 in legal fees to Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan PLLC.

Important Dates and Events

  • January 30-March 10, 2017: Parent Teacher Conferences
  • February 9th 2017: School Board Agenda Work Session, Board Room, 5:00 pm
  • February 16th, 2017: Regularly Session Board Meeting, Board Room, 5:30 pm


A Year in Review


2016 was an exciting year for UnifiEd! With increased community involvement, positive changes in our school system, and some of our greatest successes to date, 2016 was truly a breakout year. Our team and the Hamilton County community worked very hard this past year to come together and demand change in our school system for the betterment of students, teachers, families, and all stakeholders. It is now clear how much impact can be made by raising the voice of our community. UnifiEd looks forward to seeing what incredible new things we can accomplish this coming year. But first, let’s take a look at the amazing accomplishments of UnifiEd in 2016:

Student Voice Team:

After finding discrepancies between the state and local bullying and harassment policies, our student-led team successfully campaigned for a better policy for HCDE. They led meetings with students across the county and presented their findings to the school board, who implemented the new bullying and harassment policy change. Our Student Voice Team went on to lead roundtable discussion in each Hamilton County high school and worked on equity driven student-led campaigns throughout these schools.

Superintendent Search Process:

This year, we saw a lot of changes in our local school government. UnifiEd led a campaign for accountability with the Superintendent by enabling hundreds of community members to reach out to their representatives after there were concerns about transparency and communication. We hosted 10 community conversations in each of the nine districts to ensure community voice was incorporated into the superintendent selection process. These discussions produced four community-led recommendations for public involvement in the superintendent search process, leading over 200 community members to contact their representatives in support of a comprehensive community engagement plan. Over 50 community members attended our rally at the school board meeting pressuring board members to adopt the four recommendations. School board members are now in communication with the search firm about including a robust community input plan throughout the candidate search process.

School Board Elections:

Since 4 districts were up for reelection this year, we created an online tool, designed a brochure, and hosted meetings in all districts to help Hamilton County residents become more informed on how to run for school board. As a result, all districts open for election were contested. We hosted School Board Debates with 100% candidate participation. 377 community members attended these debates and had the opportunity to ask candidates questions.

Community Schools

UnifiEd teamed up with Great Schools Partnership of Knox County to host a Community Schools Workshop providing residents with information on how to establish a community school model in their district. We then sent over 30 parents, teachers, and organizational leaders to Knox County community schools to collect best practice research to better understand how to implement this model here at home. After extensive research, we helped establish a community school council for Red Bank High School and sent a community leader to Arizona for the Community Schools Conference. Through our campaigning on this initiative, HCDE has now agreed to adopt and implement the community school model throughout Hamilton County schools.

Hamilton County Public School Guide:

After over a year of extensive research and data collection, UnifiEd released the Hamilton County Public School Guide, the first education data dashboard created in Hamilton County. This tool provides the community with information concerning all 79 of our public schools such as demographic data, test scores, college and career readiness, and how to contact local representatives. Efforts are currently underway to illustrate school climate across the county because we know test scores and data don’t always give us the full picture.

UnifiEducators Committee:

This year, UnifiEd hosted monthly meetings with local educators to identify key issues affecting teachers. This lead to an ESOL campaign to improve communication between HCDE and Spanish speaking parents and students. The UnifiEducators Committee continues to grow and we look forward to seeing their progress next year.

PACT Implementation:

Recently, HCDE has drafted a strategic plan. This plan calls for HCDE to adopt much of our PACT for Public Education! Their plan calls for the following Pact Points to be adopted:

1a- Implement a plan to recruit the best possible teachers for all schools in HCDE.

1b- Retain our teachers by having a robust county-wide mentorship plan, individualized professional development.

1d- Offer incentives to keep the best teachers in the highest need schools.

3b- Implement short and long-term goals for the school board using metrics based on student outcomes.

We want to thank everyone who has been engaged in our work this year – change is impossible without you. We made some incredible progress towards making our schools the best they can be. Students, teachers, and the community are at the heart of our work. We look forward to building on this momentum in 2017!  


School Board Watch Blog: December 15, 2016

In this edition of UnifiEd’s School Board Watch Blog, we will take a look at the agenda for the December 15th 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:

  • Second Reading of Board Policy 5.305 – Family and Medical Leave: Provisions are being added to the Family and Medical Leave policy that states an employee may submit any form of medical documentation to Human Resources to have leave authorized under FMLA. In addition, the School District is able to designate leave as FMLA under their discretion if they feel adequate medical documentation or information was provided to the District. This policy change provides an important area of clarification for the system regarding medical documentation.

Field Trips

  • East Hamilton High School will participate in the competitive Honors Virtual Enterprise field trip.
  • East Hamilton School, East Ridge High School, Lookout Valley Middle High School, Signal Mountain Middle High School, Red Bank High School, and Sale Creek Middle High School will participate in sports related field trips.
  • East Hamilton School and Ooltewah High School will participate in music related field trips.
  • Signal Mountain Middle High School will participate in a competitive science related field trip.
  • Soddy Daisy High School will participate in a Forensics related field trip.
  • Big Ridge Elementary and Spring Creek Elementary will participate in Math, Reading, and Science related field trips at Rock Eagle Environmental Center.   


  • Approval sought to extend the contract by 2 years with Praters, Inc. to repair, sand, and refinish gym floors.
  • Approval sought for the purchase of 9 CPO lab kits to be given to the start up courses and 25 digital licenses to be used by Physical World Concepts Curriculum teachers. This will be for a total of $29,313.13 from the Consumables Budget.
  • The Office of Accountability and Testing is seeking approval for the renewal of the Software Maintenance Subscription & Support contract with PowerSchool for a total of $121,429.47 from the General Purpose fund.
  • Approval sought from The Howard School Principal and the Orchard Knob Middle School Principal for a contract agreement with Mastery Connect from their Federal Title I School based budget totalling $7,513.80 for Howard and $2,448.60 for Orchard Knob. Mastery Connect allows teachers to track TN ready standards, access and utilize teacher-created common formative assessments and participate in on-site/online professional development.
  • Approval sought from the Director of Exceptional Education for a contract with Momentum Behavior Analysis to provide Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services to students with disabilities. These services will be paid with Exceptional Education General Purpose funds totalling a maximum of $ 35,000.
  • Recommended bid approval for JAT Oil Company for the purchase of motor fuel totalling $26,144.00.

Conferences and Consultants:

  • Approval sought from the Principal at Notre Dame High School for a contract with A+ Education and Propel for $11,625.00 consultation for training in Coach evaluation and walkthrough process, $12,425.00 consultation for technology integration professional development, and $16,625.00 for instructional software modules, and parent support packets, from school based Federal Title I and Title II private school budget allocations.
  • Approval sought for implementing Paths to College and Career curriculum (Paths) at Brainerd High School and all materials, understandings, and strategies needed for implementation totalling $48,000 funded through the Federal Programs School Improvement Grant pending State approval.
  • Approval sought from the Principal at East Side Elementary to contract with Dr. Beverly Tyner to aid in literacy and professional development efforts for teachers totaling $1,800.00 from their school based Federal Title I budget.

Financial Report

  • Presentation of the monthly financial report comparing budget to actual through October, 2016. The presentation of the monthly financial statement compares actual year-to-date expenditures to the original adopted budget and the year-to-date amended budget.

Budget Amendments

The following FY2017 budget amendments for the Pre-K State Grant Award and matching budget are recommended for School Board approval:

  • Therapy Services Self-Funded Program, with a net increase of $300,000.
  • Character Education Self-Funded Program, with a net increase of $26,482.
  • Photography Self-Funded Program, totaling $400,000.
  • Ochs-Oakes Self-Funded Program, totaling $2,250.
  • Committed for Education Fund Balance, with $411,733 for Regular Instructional Equipment and $82,372 for Hardware/Software, totalling $494,105.              

Second Reading of Board Policy

  • Board Policy 5.305 – Family and Medical Leave: Provisions are being added to the Family and Medical Leave policy that states an employee may submit any form of medical documentation to Human Resources to have leave authorized under FMLA. In addition, the School District is able to designate leave as FMLA under their discretion if they feel adequate medical documentation or information was provided to the District. This policy change provides an important area of clarification for the system regarding medical documentation.

Administrative and Business Matters

  • A summary of legal fees for services in October are $13,732.00 for Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan PLLC and $1,465.50 for Spears, Moore, Rebman & Williams, totalling $15,197.50.
  • All certified and full-time classified employees were given an opportunity to vote on one of four calendar options for the 2017-818 school year. Draft 1 of the calendar received 54% of the vote, so Human Resources is encouraging the approval of the Board for this Draft.
  • Dr. Lee McDade will recommend the approval of a name change for the district’s Preschool Assessment and Learning Services Center, located at West 40th Street, with support from The PALS Team and the Exceptional Education Department.The proposed new name would be the Amy Piazza Preschool Assessment and Learning Services Center in remembrance of Amy Piazza.
  • The board will review a student’s zero tolerance suspension appeal decision per question of the student’s mother.

Important Dates and Events

  • December 16th, 2016: Last day of Classes
  • December 19th-30th, 2016: Winter Break
  • January 2md-3rd, 2017: Teacher Professional Development
  • January 4th, 2017: School Reopens
  • January 6th, 2017: Report Cards
  • January 12th, 2017: Board Agenda Work Session, Board Room 5:00 pm
  • January 16th, 2017: Martin Luther King Day
  • January 19th, 2017: Regular Session Board Meeting, Board Room 5:00 pm (5:30 pm if no Ex. Session)
  • January 20th, 2017: Strategic Planning Session, Central High School 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm
  • January 21st, 2017: Strategic Planning Session, Central High School 8:00 am to 12:00 pm