Five candidates for the District 9 County School Board seat agreed on one thing at a debate on Tuesday night - they do not support a tax increase.
In his opening statement, candidate Steve Highlander said, "We are all concerned about the children in Hamilton County."
Mr. Highlander also said, "I think we need to spend the maximum amount of money on kids in the classroom, not administration." He described himself as "economically conservative.
Candidate Dean Moorhouse said he served on the Blue Ribbon Committee several years ago that investigated the school board.
From his teaching experience, he said, "I know what it's like to sit in a classroom with those kids."
Mr. Moorhouse said he was a strong supporter of vocational schools. He stated, "Being a product of vocational education, I can see many benefits of that."
Candidate Tim White said he went to Harrison Elementary as a child. He also said he had a special needs daughter.
He said, "I know some of the needs that children at her school have."
If elected, he said, "I know that I won't have all the answers right away, but I will work my hardest."
The fourth candidate, Karen Farrow, has been a police officer in the Ooltewah area for 18 years. She said she had "raised two kids in the public schools" and was "involved with a lot of things in this school system."
She said, "My daughter teaches at Ooltewah Middle School. I know how hard it is for them to get the things they need in the schools. I know how hard it is to get the funding."
Ms. Farrow said because of her training as a police officer, "It's very dear to me to make sure the kids are going to be safe and secure."
Candidate Larry Lewis said it was very important to him to get parents more involved in their child's school.
He also said he wanted to increase communication between parents and the school board. He said not long ago, he was "met with indifference" when he approached the school board about an issue. He said this incident was part of what made him decide to run.
The candidates were asked how they felt about making the workings of the school board more transparent.
Mr. Moorhouse said he strongly agreed with putting an open comment section on each school board agenda.
Mr. White said, "If they're more accountable that way, they won't waste the money."
Ms. Farrow said, "I would truly love to see the school board go to different schools, to start at one and go all the way around." She also suggested the board post their meeting minutes as soon as possible if not immediately during meetings.
Mr. Lewis said, "Our school board has created a reputation of being clandestine and aloof and we need to get away from that."
Mr. Highlander said, "Online financial status should be posted constantly...It's very important that you let the people know what the money's being spent for."