The city of Chattanooga will allocate over $1 million in funding in the FY2014 budget to the Hamilton County Department of Education and also donate the Poss Homes property behind Howard School (HCDE).
The move comes after it was discovered that the city had stopped furnishing proceeds of the liquor-by-the-drink tax, which is due each year, in 2005.
City and county school officials in recent weeks have been in talks on how the city will catch up on the required payments.
Mayor Andy Berke said, “Youth development is the best investment we can make for our future. With a strong, forward looking partnership with the Hamilton County Department of Education, we will ensure we are doing our part in growing smarter students.”
City officials said, "For several years following the merger of the city and county school systems in 1998, the city made significant payments to HCDE. From 2005 until early this year, those payments were halted. Now, with Mayor Berke’s recently approved budget, funds are budgeted for public schools for the first time in nearly a decade."
Mayor Berke said, “We have spent the last 120 or so days reviewing all functions of city government. Because of the importance of youth development, ensuring that these funds are appropriately allocated to public education is a priority.
One portion of the city payment will bring access to 275,000 books, 5,000 e-books, and 22 databases for county school students.
The city budget includes $500,000 to support an early childhood development initiative at Calvin Donaldson Elementary School. Officials said, "This initiative will help bridge the gap of academic performance by increasing school readiness and will be administered by the Creative Discovery Museum."
Mayor Berke said the city "will move to donate the site of the former Poss Homes. HCDE has stated it plans to support the construction of new athletic facilities on the site for the benefit of students at Howard School."
Rick Smith, school superintendent, said, “In the past, there have been some issues with how the funds were paid to the school system. I am excited that we have been able to work with Mayor Berke to reach a clear solution and we can move forward.
“I look forward to working with the Berke administration and commend them for their support in education initiatives like the Creative Discovery Museum’s early childhood development partnership at Calvin Donaldson Elementary as well as ensuring students at public schools have access to books that we know are so critical to their success.”