Nothing Ever Changes With The Hamilton County School Board - And Response (7)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

People claim they want change... in our government, at all levels; in every aspect from a small town school board all the way up to the President of the United States.  But when it comes right down to it, people fear change more than they want it, and so change, as always, remains elusive.

The media is reporting that Hamilton County School Superintendent Rick Smith is up for a raise, a hefty one, and he will most likely get it.  His raise will boost his salary to close to $200k a year.  I, as a parent of a Hamilton County student, greatly object to this.  I have nothing against Rick Smith.  But it is absolutely ridiculous to give him a raise of $25k a year, when teachers in Hamilton County have not received a raise since 2007.  Many of them shell out their own money for supplies for their students and their classrooms, (money that is not reimbursed) work long hours over the school year (nights, and weekends, hours that they aren't getting paid for), and oftentimes have to find a summer job when the school year ends.   They have lousy benefits, oftentimes have to struggle to make ends meet, and yet they are the ones who are parent, teacher, protector, nurse, guide and confidant to our children. 

I am curious how there is more than enough money available to pay a school superintendent almost $200k a year, and yet there isn't enough money, and hasn't been enough money in years, for teachers to receive a raise, to properly stock their classrooms so that responsibility doesn't fall on their shoulders of the shoulders of the parents.    Hamilton County, you have some some 'splainin to do.  Where is the money?  Why does it seem to flow as freely as a river to the school board, yet is barely a trickle for the teachers?

Some say that Rick Smith deserves this salary.  A school superintendent does not deserve $200k a year... military, EMS, fire, police, and teachers deserve that kind of salary.  Some say that if Rick Smith doesn't receive a raise, another town or city will snatch him up.  Fine with me.  If someone wants to abandon the future of our children for money, then good riddance to that person. 

The media reported that the salary Rick Smith currently makes is rather low compared to other superintendents, and they cited the salaries for the superintendents in Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville.  That's like comparing apples and oranges.  Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville are major, metropolitan cities, with more schools, and larger student populations.  Perhaps this will someday get through Hamilton County's head, but Chattanooga never has been and never will be a major metropolitan city.  It's the small city between Nashville and Atlanta.  That's what it's known as.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  If Rick Smith wants to make the salary of a school superintendent that works in a major city, then he needs to go work in a major city.  A small city trying to pay close to the same salary as what a major city would is ridiculous. 

The Hamilton County School Board has been causing problems, and getting in the way of the learning, and the futures of Hamilton County Students since I was in school... and I graduated from high school 21 years ago, so what does that tell you?  That tells me that the same old types have been continuously getting voted onto the school board.  No real change has occurred, and none will, until people actually vote differently.  Until then, the students, teachers, and parents of Hamilton County will face the same obstacles they always have.  I for one consider my child's future to be more important than a raise for someone who doesn't need it.  I hope I live to see the day where the Hamilton County School Board cares about the future of our teachers and students, but, I'm not holding my breath.

Mariah Smith 

* * * 

I agree with everything Ms. Smith said.  The Hamilton County School Board has a reputation... a very bad one.  Their history proves that they are more concerned with vacation pay, retirement pay, ridiculous raises (as is obvious with the most recent raise for Rick Smith.)   

Just like Ms. Smith, I'm curious, as I'm sure some type of law enforcement agency, or maybe the IRS would be, as to where all this money for these perks and raises is coming from, when we are repeatedly told there is no money available for supplies for classrooms, no money available for raises for teachers.  How is it that there is always money magically available for anything and everything the school board wants? 

This recent situation with the outrageous raise for Rick Smith begs the question, why does this keep happening?  The answer lies in Ms. Smith's opinion on this...we are afraid of change.  We all want it, and publicly voice our outrage, yet no one takes the action necessary... which is a put a different type of person on the school board.  No one takes the action to make a change, a change that will have a permanent effect.  It's always the same.   

If Hamilton County really wants to change the school board, and how it's run, then take affirmative action and do something about it.  Contact the IRS, the TBI, the FBI, whomever is necessary to investigate the school board.  When election time rolls around again, don't vote for the same old people time and time again.  

Change requires more than rage and social media... it requires action. 

Jan Carlson 

* * * 

Nothing changes? Nothing except Rick Smith's salary. Wow, a double digit raise from $167,000 to $190,000? The reasoning is that it's like paying a great coach when he's a winner? Really? That's your explanation?  

I don't know Rick Smith, and he may be a great guy, but his salary is higher than any employee of the city of Chattanooga. Higher that chief of police, higher than judges, even higher than the mayor of the whole city, and this was before his new raise. That is shameful. This was so unprecedented that it actually made the local news in Nashville.  

Teachers have perks and pay either frozen or cut and we raise Mr. Smith's salary by $25,000 because we are afraid he will take another job somewhere else? Sounds like we must have the educational equivalent of Nick Saban. 

Think about it. A $25,000 raise. More than what lots of working folks make in a year. Mr. Smith says he will now work on getting raises for teachers. Yes, now that his nest is feathered, I suppose he has the time. 

Herb Montgomery

 * * * 

The $25,000 raise is ridiculous.  His current pay is ridiculous.  Mr. Smith, as the leader of our education system, should set an example by refusing to take this raise and agree to a 10 percent reduction in his current salary for the benefit of the school system. It’s time that teachers, firefighters and policemen / women in the trenches be given more money by reducing the ridiculous salaries of the high end administration in both the city government and the department of education. 

I am sure there are many qualified people in the school system that would be glad to take Mr. Smiths job for a mere $100,000 a year and put the remaining $67,000 towards increased pay for those working in the trenches. 

It’s time the government and department of education run their departments as if it were a private business without having the comfort to spend taxpayers' dollars when they feel like it.  As my father always said, “it's easy to spend someone else’s money.” 

Michael Mansfield 

* * * 

Upset about a $200k salary? Tired of dilapidated schools that never get repaired? Or textbooks that still show the U.S.S.R. on a map?  Here's the solution: vote the school board members out. 

Will Thomas 

* * * 

No, nothing will ever change at the school board until politics is removed from the Hamilton County public education system. 

How could we do that?  Abolish the positions of superintendent and school board; allow the school principals to be just that, the controlling authority or CEO as defined in Webster's dictionary; appoint Rhonda Thurman or someone with her experience and dedication to the students, teachers, curriculum, buildings, and how to squeeze a dime out of a nickel as overall coordinator of the school system; require the county attorney to be responsible for informing, interpreting, applying and enforcing applicable laws and other legal matters pertaining to the schools and the chief budget officer to be responsible for overall consolidated fiscal requirements including budgeting, purchasing, transportation, etc., necessary for all schools.  How many dollars would that save? 

All schools in our system are not alike.  They do not serve the same kind of community.  The needs of the communities are not the same.  The buildings are not the same age and their locations are too varied to draw a single description.  Common sense should tell us that each school is a separate entity within itself and if it is to provide the best education for the students zoned to go there, it must be treated as a special private facility unencumbered by interference from layers of politicians whose interests have nothing to do with the needs of the students, the principal, the teachers, the building or the grounds where a different community of parents, students, and school employees exists as a family and works and plays every school day of every year. 

Well, that should make a lot of people unhappy....but that is too bad.  Our schools are trying to function with a well-used stranglehold in an iron fist on them.  We certainly do not want to be burdened with another buyout of a contract of someone who is overpaid to begin with. 

Charlotte Parton

* * * 

Two hundred thousand per year equals around $16,666 per month or $3,846 per week. Not bad for a job in Chattanooga. This means Mr. Smith could possible buy and pay cash for almost any new car per month.  

I believe anyone reading this post could live on that salary. Maybe Congressman "Chuck" could look into this instead of voting for the repeal of Obamacare for the zillionth  time. Your new mayor Mr. Berke could probably make ends meet on this salary. 

Gary Dixon
South Pittsburg

* * *

Frankly, I have no idea what a school board member does, or what a superintendent of schools does... other than sit at desks, make up policies, and have pointless meetings where they pretend to listen to the needs and wants of teachers, students, and parents, and then proceed to do whatever they want anyway... pretty much like most any other politician these days.

Someone asked me how I can be so outraged, which I am, at the ridiculous salary Rick Smith is now making, when I don't exactly know what it is he does.  Well friends, let me tell you.  I see teachers struggling to use under-stocked classrooms in buildings older than my grandparents to help prepare our children for their futures... to help prepare the future leaders of this country. And in being our children's teacher, parent, protector, and about a million other things, they themselves are struggling to make ends meet.  I see students who are starving... for food, for attention, for knowledge, for love, for acceptance, for stability, and for guidance.  In essence I see a lot of struggling.  

Then I see the school board, who isn't struggling at all.  And yet they aren't doing anything to end the struggling for the teachers or students and their parents in Hamilton County.  The only thing they are doing is making themselves as comfortable as possible, in every way possible, at the expense of our teachers and the futures of our children. 

I believe it was Mr. Joe Galloway who supports the ridiculously high raise for Mr. Smith, because, in Mr. Galloway's words, "Rick Smith is doing an excellent job, and excellence should be rewarded."  Really, Mr. Galloway?  If you believe that, why are our teachers, who are some of the most excellent teachers in the state, going year after year after year without a raise?  They haven't received a raise since 2007 (although I believe it's been longer than that, I believe the last time Hamilton County teachers got a raise was in 2005.)  Where is the reward for excellence for anyone who isn't a school board member, Mr. Galloway?
I have a close family friend who is a well-respected teacher in another state.  I asked her what she thought of all this, and she said it's all foreign to her.  Granted, she lives and teaches in a small town, but the school board in her town doesn't receive vacation pay, or retirement pay, or anything else.  She said she's never heard of a school board that receives such things.  Then she asked if it was legal for the school board to receive such things... a most excellent question. 
I for one will be only to happy to contact whomever I need to contact to have the Hamilton County School Board thorougly investigated.  Lining your pockets, vacations, and retirements at the expense of my child, and her teachers is about the most disgusting thing one can do.  You guys would make excellent politicians though, with your actions, and the way in which you can lie so easily on camera.  Maybe you should all move to Washington and pursue your careers in politics there?   The buck is stopping here, Hamilton County School Board.  
Adam Buchannon

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