Our School's Problem Isn't Lack Of Funds- And Response

Thursday, October 3, 2013
Dear Mr. Smith,

I seem to recall that back in July the school board increased your yearly pay to $190,000 per year. Lets see, $190,000 minus $165,000 equals a healthy pay increase of $25,000 per year. Not too shabby.  At $165,000 you were already one of the highest paid persons dipping into the pockets of the Hamilton County taxpayers. Yes I know, I know, persons in your position in some other Tennessee counties get paid more.  So what is your focus? Best for the students? Or best for Mr. Smith? Frankly as you can see I am a disgruntled taxpayer.

After a hefty pay raise such as you received it takes a lot of guts to say "We have not had the kind of financial support that I think our kids deserve," and "Teachers are having to take money out of their own pockets to buy school materials." It is a crying shame that the school administrators scrape off the cream and leave the remains to run the school system.

The school system already has the largest budget in Hamilton County government. The Hamilton County taxpayer does not have bottomless pockets.

Tom Wheatley

Soddy Daisy 

* * * 

Mr. Smith, your call for increased taxes is offensive, unjust, and short-sighted. 

I can’t speak for all taxpayers, but I imagine I speak for a lot of them when I say I think we pay enough already.  With per pupil expenditure in Hamilton County at $9,009 or thereabouts, one has to wonder where all the money is going. After looking at the standardized performance metrics for academic achievement system-wide, there is little doubt the money isn't being spent wisely. 

An “ideal classroom” of 15 students produces $135,135 in revenue, and a “crowded” classroom of 20 even more revenue at $180,180. Believe me, I understand business costs, and there must be a certain amount of overhead for every direct dollar spent in producing services in addition to ancillary expense, but this amount seems more than sufficient to adequately compensate hardworking teachers. 

The real answer to this question is the one that is logical and most apparent to most observers: there are systemic problems with our local public schools that prevent well-meaning, passionate teachers from producing the kind of results the children deserve. 

Compensation – The best and brightest teachers are rewarded similarly to the very worst. 

Discipline – Teachers run a tremendous risk when they do the right thing and disciple students appropriately and communicate the truth to parents. 

Low Expectations – I have taught graduates of the Hamilton County School system who could not write a complete sentence, assemble a paragraph, or complete the kind of math problems necessary for making informed personal finance decisions. If you want to become aflame with indignant injustice, Mr. Smith, how about beginning a quest to end the issuance of rubber-stamped diplomas that produce functionally illiterate graduates and handicap individuals for life. 

Heavy Administrative Overhead – If the money per pupil is adequate, and it must be when you observe the tuition of local private schools that are lower yet are performing adequately and orderly, then the money must be evaporating into overhead that does not improve the quality of the student’s educational experience. 

Presently, for my tax dollars, because of my address, I can’t send my child to a local public school where I feel she would be safe or that the graduation rate would top 40 percent. There are countless taxpaying parents all over this county who “donate” to your organization every year with their tax dollars with no hope of a return on their investment for their children. Perhaps a little more gratitude for this set would be well placed. 

Regarding tax increases, there is a concept called proportionality. This means that as the county grows and the citizens have an improvement in their lot, your organization too will receive increased funding – proportionally and fairly.  But, the very idea that you feel justified in asking working families to reduce their incomes so you might put meaningless patches on a broken system is insulting and betrays a lack of compassion and appreciation. 

Mr. Smith, leadership requires making tough decisions and tackling problems that might make you unpopular in your professional peer group.  If you really want to make a difference in the lives of students in Hamilton County, be a logical reformer and abandon the easy yet misinformed approach of throwing good money after bad. 

That is how you will leave a legacy you can be proud of. That is how you will change the lives of local children and improve our community in earnest. 

Brandon Lewis
Chattanooga


Northpoint Boulevard Is The Worst Road In Chattanooga

If you drive in Hixson, you too have had the honor of driving the worst road in Chattanooga.  A small portion of the road has signs up as a private road beginning at the entrance to The Home-a-Way going south to the Suntrust Bank. That section of the road is owned by those property owners.   The city of Chattanooga has patched holes over and over, also paying to re-stripe. ... (click for more)

Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to  news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

Storm Costs EPB $2.5 Million; Smart Grid Helped Ease The Pain

Tuesday night's fierce storm cost EPB an estimated $2.5 million, President David Wade said Friday. He said the city utility will have to bear all the cost - unlike when it got federal aid after spending $18 million following tornadoes that raked the Chattanooga area in 2012. Mr. Wade said EPB's Smart Grid helped ease the pain, bringing back online about 27,000 affected customers ... (click for more)

1 Killed, 1 Injured In Brainerd Shooting

One person was killed and a second person injured in a shooting in Brainerd on Thursday night. The call was to 3301 Pinewood Ave. at 7:05 p.m. It was reported that a silver vehicle was seen leaving the scene. One of the persons shot, 23-year-old Antonio Baldwin, died during surgery. The injury to William Daniel, 21, is not life-threatening. Police said both of the ... (click for more)

Owls Rally Late To Knock Off Columbia Academy 5-3

(Story will be updated) Every sermon Ooltewah coach Brian Hitchcox preaches from his baseball pulpit at some point stresses defense. After Friday’s five-error effort in its own Ooltewah Invitational at A.C. “Bud” Ball Field, Hitchcox was probably going to be delivering a fire and brimstone speech to his baseball team. Despite the sloppy fielding – and throwing the ... (click for more)

Grundy Co. Gets First Softball Win Over CSAS

Grundy County got its first softball win of the season with a 10-3 victory over CSAS in the Lookout Valley Invitational Thursday evening, but they came up short in the next game in a 10-9 loss to South Pittsburg. The three-day tournament continues with more pool play on Friday at the O’Mary-Conard Field next to Lookout Valley Elementary School while bracket play will take place ... (click for more)