School Officials Discuss Need For Tax Increase To Fund Costly New And Expanded County Schools

Thursday, February 27, 2014 - by Hollie Webb
School Board members discuss needed for new school buildings and additions
School Board members discuss needed for new school buildings and additions
- photo by Hollie Webb

A tax increase to support the construction of new schools and the upkeep of current schools was discussed during a Hamilton County School Board meeting Thursday afternoon.

Though nothing has been planned yet, several board members and parents agreed that the increase would be necessary in the future. The board recently put together a priority facilities list for the first time since 1999. The list contains six schools that officials said are in great need of either renovations or a new building because of both growth and age.



For all six projects to be completed, the estimated total cost would be $140 million. Some of the projects were on the last priority facilities list, still not completed.

Board Chairman Mike Evatt said, "We can consolidate a lot of schools, but that's not going to take care of the growth in the eastern part of the county."

Board member George Ricks Sr. said, "The reality is that we do have schools all over this county that do have wide discrepancies." When discussing building new schools, he asked, "Why add to that inventory if we can't take care of what we have already?"

He also said, "There is an issue of equity." He told the board that working to improve some schools but not others would be asking parts of the community to pay for something they are not getting.

However, he told the Board not to be afraid of asking people to vote for a tax increase. He said the County Commission would most likely not support it and that parents who wanted it would have to vote for people who thought the same way.

Superintendent Rick Smith said there has not been any increase in the school budget other than normal growth since 2006.

The list of priority facilities starts with a project to combine Ganns Middle Valley Elementary and Falling Water Elementary, two schools in buildings that are respectively 77 and 102 years old. The new school would be at the current site of Ganns, and the cost would total $26 million.

Next on the list is Wolftever Elementary, which needs expansion work due to the population growth in the eastern part of Hamilton County. This cost would be approximately $5 million.

Third is replacing the building for the Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts. Currently, the school is an award winning and nationally recognized K-8 magnet school. Students must apply and are selected by lottery; the wait list is already at 1,283 students. If a new building were built, the school would be able to expand to K-12. The approximate cost is $45 million.

However, board member Rhonda Thurman suggested, instead of spending $45 million on a new building, moving CSLA to the Tyner High School and Middle School facility and rezoning students that attend Tyner.

Expanding Nolan Elementary at a cost of $5 million is the fourth priority, and the expansion of Sale Creek Middle/High is the fifth. Sale Creek has had a 28 percent enrollment increase since 2008, and currently the entire middle school is in portable classrooms. The work here would cost approximately $20 million.

Last on the list is East Hamilton Middle/High. For this project, the School Board wants to convert the current buildings into a high school and construct a new building for the middle school. This project would cost approximately $45 million.

 

Superintendent Rick Smith has the floor
Superintendent Rick Smith has the floor
- Photo2 by Hollie Webb

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ABLES, JAMIE SHAWN  3449 HALL STREET CHATTANOOGA, 37415  Age at Arrest: 27 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga FRAUDULENT USE OF CREDIT CARD THEFT OF PROPERTY FUGITIVE (ARREST FOR CRIME IN ANOTHER STATE) --- BAILEY, COREY DEON  2440 4TH AVE APT 4 CHATTANOOGA, 37402  Age at ... (click for more)

Man Convicted Of 5th DUI To Lose Driver's License For 8 Years

A man who picked up his fifth DUI since 2006 pleaded guilty in Criminal Court on Thursday. Pablo Figueroa, 32, appeared before Judge Barry Steelman. Prosecutor Tom Landis said on April 1 Figuero was found passed out drunk behind the steering wheel of a vehicle that had its engine running. He was also charged with driving without a license and violation of the open container ... (click for more)

White Coat Syndrome And The Medical System - And Response (2)

Today I wish to share what I am feeling as a patient in our medical system. I am too old to put on airs at this point, and this is too pervasive of a problem for me to contain.   As I enter my AARP years, I am faced with so many medical encounters that evoke all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. I dread physician’s appointments riddled with government regulatory hypocrisy, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: County Commissioners Not Getting Bang For Their School Bucks

The Hamilton County School Board passed a balanced budget to present to the County Commission at a Special Called Meeting on Thursday night. They also attached a prioritized list of $24.5 million in critical needs for the County Commission to consider that will never see the light of day. The long and short of it is easy to see -- the County Commissioners have had enough. It ... (click for more)

Sales' Grand Slam Leads Lady Owls To 6-2 Comeback Win

Cheyenne Sales came close to hitting two home runs on Tuesday. She atoned for those close calls a day later with a grand slam in a five-run fourth inning and powered Ooltewah to a 6-2 victory over gritty East Hamilton in District 5-3A softball action at Jim Lovell Field. “That’s the first grand slam I’ve hit this season,” said Sales, who finished with five RBIs. “The pitch ... (click for more)

Prep Tennis: Hixson Girls, Red Bank Boys Win District Titles

Playing for the District 6 A-AA tennis title, it came down to No.2 doubles with the overall match tied at 4 all. Hixson’s Amy Carranza and Sydney Buckner defeated Grace Brown and Cheyenne Cummings, of Red Bank, 8-6, Thursday at the Hixson Rec Center courts to give the host Wildcats the district championship, 5-4, for the second straight year and fourth title in five years. ... (click for more)