Education Commissioner Says State Taking Over Several Low-Performing Hamilton County Schools One Way Or The Other

Thursday, May 18, 2017
Education Commissioner Candice McQueen
Education Commissioner Candice McQueen

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen told members of the County School Board on Thursday that the state is taking over several low-performing Hamilton County Schools one way or the other.

She said if the board does not agree to join in a "partnership" with the state to operate a special school district for five of the low-end schools that the state will begin preparations to place several schools in an Achievement School District.

Commissioner McQueen wanted an answer from the board next month. She said it could have a little more time after Chairman Steve Highlander said a new superintendent will be named at the June meeting. He said the new superintendent should have a say in the decision.

The schools that would go into a "Partnership Zone" would be Brainerd High, Dalewood Middle, Woodmore Elementary, Orchard Knob Middle and Orchard Knob Elementary.

She said the state is willing to put $1 million into the zone the first year and $500,000 the second year. She indicated the zone could operate in after years through regular BEP and federal funds, plus philanthropic help.

Commissioner McQueen said there would be a five-year contract with the board for the zone that would have its own board. The state would appoint the majority of the board members and the School Board would have several picks.

Chairman Highlander said it appeared the state "would be the senior partner and we are the junior partner." Commissioner McQueen said it was the state that had the responsibility to act on low-performing schools "under federal and state law."

She said, "There is not an option for no decision based on the track record" of the schools' performance under the county schools. She added, "There is an urgent need for some intervention. Our guiding principle is that the students can't wait."

Chairman Highlander asked if the state "will take responsibility" for the success or failure of the joint effort. The commissioner said both parties would have involvement.

The board was told that 85 percent of BEP money that would normally go to the schools would go to the zone - with 15 percent retained by the central office.

The zone schools would remain county schools and the teachers would stay county school teachers, it was stated.

The district would have its own director hired by its board.  

It would follow some county school policies, such as whether to take snow days.

Two officials from Springfield, Mass., spoke to the board, telling that the idea has worked well there.

Board member Rhonda Thurman questioned whether it is legal to set up a board that is not elected by the voters. Commissioner McQueen acknowledged that would take special legislation.

Karitsa Mosley Jones, another board member, said she had "poured my heart and soul" into three of the schools that would be going into the zone, but then would no longer be the board representative. Commissioner McQueen said it was possible that an elected board member could serve on the board, though it might be difficult to serve on both.

Ms. Jones asked if the school staffs would be "reconstituted" under the zone plan, and the commissioner said that was not the intention. However, that has happened under the Achievement School District set-up in other parts of the state.

Joe Galloway of the board said he liked the idea that the program would be "school-centric" with individual schools being able to implement what works best for them.

Officials said the idea would not be "to start over" at the zone schools, but to "build on what is working for them." 

There would be a year of planning before the district went into effect for 2018-19. 

A number of local legislators and County Commission members were at the presentation.

Senator Todd Gardenhire said he is in support, saying the county schools have had a failing record with the schools - with some having been on the low-performing list for many years.

 





Grand Jury No Bills And True Bills

Here are the No Bills and True Bills from the Hamilton County Grand Jury for Aug. 20. No Bills: BROOKS, EMILY LEANNE W 26 F 0 1 GS 1675804 POSSESSION OF FIREARM WITH INTENT TO GO ARMED COFFMAN, CRYSTAL GAIL W 45 F 0 1 SD 59104 THEFT OF PROPERTY COFFMAN, CRYSTAL GAIL W 45 F 0 2 SD 59105 THEFT OF PROPERTY DAVIS, DEJUAN DEWAYNE B 25 M 0 1 GS 1682670 POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED ... (click for more)

Upcoming Red Bank Commission Agenda For Tuesday

Here is the upcoming Red Bank Commission agenda for Tuesday: I. Call to Order – Mayor John Roberts II. Roll Call – City Manager Mayor Roberts ____, Vice-Mayor Pierce ____, Commissioner LeCompte ____, Commissioner Pope ___, Commissioner Rose ____ III. Invocation – IV. Pledge of Allegiance – V. Consideration of the Minutes for approval or correction: ... (click for more)

Vince Dean Saved The Day

Permit me to publicly express appreciation to Vince Dean. His calm, comprehensive and diplomatic arguments to the Chattanooga City Council against the administration’s ill-advised plan to segregate retirees and herd them unwillingly into a separate insurance plan unquestionably saved the day. The proposed new plan, if implemented, was certain to cause months of chaos and confusion ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Let’s Focus On ‘Better’

As I stepped away from the overflow crowd at  Monday  night’s Town Council meeting on Signal Mountain, I leaned in to tell Jean Trohanis how sorry I was to hear of the loss of her dearest friend. But in that millisecond before I could speak, the former but still-loved elementary school principal gave me her best hallway hiss and, with a pointed finger, she ordered, “You ... (click for more)

Hayes Surpasses 1,000 Points As Lady Canes Beat Walker Valley 54-43

East Hamilton sophomore Madison Hayes scored 17 points in a 54-43 victory at Walker County in Cleveland on Tuesday night and pushed her career scoring past the 1,000-point mark in the process. Hayes scored a team-high 19 points Friday in a 52-40 victory over Notre Dame in the East-West Classic, giving her 996 points in her career, including eighth-grade and freshman seasons ... (click for more)

Will Healy Selected as FCS Coach of the Year

For Will Healy, receiving Christmas presents early seems to be a habit with the 32-year-old Chattanooga native Now in only his second year as head football coach of the Austin Peay Governors, he has been selected as the FCS Coach of the Year as he guided APU to an 8-4 record this season. He was hired as APU had coach Dec. 19, 2015, was a member of the Richmond Spiders ... (click for more)