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


Get Emailed Headlines From Chattanoogan.com; Like Us On Facebook, Twitter For Instant News

We send out headlines each day of the latest Chattanooga news.  Our news headlines have links that take you to the stories with a click. We also send out special emails if there is a highly significant local news story breaking so you will be aware of it quickly. To be added to the email headline list, just email us at news@chattanoogan.com In addition, like ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ALFARO, GUILLERMO ANTONIO  714 ELY RD HIXSON, 37343  Age at Arrest: 44 years old Arresting Agency: Tenn Highway Patrol DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE --- APPLEBETJR, PERCY  1706 BRADT ST CHATTANOOGA, 37406  Age at Arrest: 62 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga CRIMINAL TRESPASSING ... (click for more)

The Growing Monopoly

Over the last decade, five tech giants have risen to the top, and created, discovered and invented services and products that have made these companies worth billions today. Those five, of course, are Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. Each of these companies are responsible for several products and services that we use in our everyday lives. They have devoured the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Those We All Ignore

I was in the midst of my “morning readings” the other day when a number leapt off my computer screen. Hark, heralded angels, did you know in the state of Iowa there are two (2) inpatient psychiatry beds for every 100,000 people? I’m not the best with percentages but there are some people in Iowa who aren’t getting the help they need. There are roughly 3.2 million people living in ... (click for more)

Stoker Beats Ensign At End To Win Wauhatchie

Rodney Stoker is hard to beat and it doesn’t matter if it’s on a road or a slick trail on the side of Lookout Mountain. The 41-year-old Stoker won the Sports Barn Turkey Trot 8K on Thanksgiving and he made his return to the 33 rd annual Wauhatchie Trail Run on Saturday a successful one as he caught 10-time winner Tim Ensign in the final quarter mile to win the challenging and ... (click for more)

Commerce Wins Bradley Invitational With Four Champs

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – The host Bradley Bears were the two-time defending champs in their own Bradley Invitational this weekend at Jim Smiddy Arena, but they weren’t able to make it a three-peat. The Commerce Tigers, a powerhouse Class A team from Georgia, had a slim three-point lead going into Saturday afternoon’s medal rounds, but after winning all four of their championship matches ... (click for more)