Bible in the Schools presented a community gift for nearly $1 million to the Hamilton County Department of Education (HCDE) to reimburse 100 percent of the costs of funding a Bible history program in 18 public schools for the 2015–2016 academic year. Enrollment data for 2015–2016 reported 3,582 students in grades 6-12 elected to take Bible history classes.
“This gift from the community represents the longest sustained private contribution to Hamilton County schools that many of us are aware of, dating back to 1922,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Kirk Kelly.
He added, “We are so thankful to Bible in the Schools for their dedication each year to raising awareness and support for public education. This timely grant empowered HCDE to hire 16 qualified and certified teachers last year. This provided key mentors for many students, reduced student-teacher ratios, and expanded elective course offerings - all things that raise the quality of public education in Hamilton County.”
Presenting the check totaling $963,282.75 to Dr. Kelly and his cabinet were Cathy Scott, president of Bible in the Schools, and Dr. Gary Phillips, vice chairman of Bible in the Schools’ Board of Directors.
Ms. Scott said, “Bible in the Schools is honored to be the conduit through which the study of Bible history is made possible in the public schools. We, however, are just a small part of a much larger picture. This gift is in fact a gift from the broader community, indicative of the desire of literally thousands of individuals, as well as churches, businesses, organizations, and families who want to see Bible history continue to be offered as an elective to youth in our public schools. It is encouraging to see students benefiting from the exposure to the healthy values found in the Bible and to see them making more thoughtful choices about their lives as a result. Bible history classes also have strong overall academic benefit. Lessons, from court-approved curriculum, are designed for academic rigor and invite students to be active participants in the learning process. The reading of the text improves comprehension skills, enhances vocabulary and cultural literacy, and develops higher levels of cognition measured by quantifiable outcomes. It is with deep honor that we present this gift to enrich the lives of public school youth with the hope, wisdom, and knowledge of what is still the world’s most influential book.”
Officials said, "Since 1922, Bible in the Schools, a Chattanooga-based nonprofit, has inspired generosity from across the community, providing Hamilton County public schools students the same opportunity to study the Bible as many of their private school counterparts, at no expense to taxpayers."
Bible in the Schools reimburses HCDE annually for the full cost of each school’s Bible history program. This includes teacher salaries, employee benefits and taxes, classroom materials, and the textbook, which is the Bible.
In 2015-2016, Bible history classes were offered at 18 Hamilton County middle and high schools taught by certified teachers with graduate-level Bible training. Thanks to special contributions, Bible history classes will be offered in 19 schools this fall, with a Bible history program beginning at Brown Middle School for the 2016-2017 academic year.
Officials said, "Classes follow guidelines established by a 1980 federal court ruling, which affirmed that the teaching of Bible in the public school is constitutionally permissible. Hamilton County’s Bible history curriculum meets all pre-established legal requirements, with classes offered as for-credit electives using the Bible as the only textbook. Bible history teachers are employees of the Hamilton County Department of Education and are selected and hired by school principals."
Hamilton County Middle and High Public Schools Offering Bible History Classes: Brainerd High School, Brown Middle School, Central High School, Dalewood Middle School, East Hamilton School, East Lake Academy, East Ridge High School, East Ridge Middle School, Hixson High School, Hixson Middle School, The Howard School, Hunter Middle School, Loftis Middle School, Ooltewah High School, Ooltewah Middle School, Red Bank Middle School, Signal Mountain Middle/High School, Soddy Daisy Middle School and Tyner Academy.
Bible in the Schools Board of Directors, 2016–2017: Mr. Jerry Adams (Treasurer, Bible in the Schools) – Decosimo Founding Partner, Elliott Davis Decosimo; Mrs. Harriet Bond – Former Bible Teacher and High School Guidance Counselor; Dr. Frank Brock – Director of Brow Wood; Mrs. Hugh Edward Brown (Betsy) – Regional Manager, Cumberland Trust; Mr. Doug Brown – Financial Advisor, Senior Vice President, UBS Wealth Management; Mrs. Boyd Coleman Jr. (Mary) – Retired, IBM Corporation; Mr. Franklin Farrow – Chief Operating Officer, Independent Healthcare Properties; Mr. Steven Frost – President, Tuftco Corporation; Mr. Tom Getz – President & Franchisee, Little Caesars Pizza; Mr. Tom Glenn – President, Elder's Ace Hardware of Chattanooga; Mr. Mike Harrell – Owner, Latitude Advisors LLC; Mrs. James E. Hawks (Lynda) – President, Hawks Property Management and Accounting Services; Mrs. Hal Hazlewood (Patsy) – Member, Tennessee House of Representatives, District 27; Mr. John E. Henegar – Tax Principal, Elliott Davis Decosimo; Mr. Joey Hogan – President, Covenant Transport; Mr. Mike Kramer – President & COO Atlantic Capital Bank & FSG Bank; Mr. Thomas H. McCallie, III, (Secretary, Bible in the Schools) – Retired: Executive Director, The Robert L. & Kathrina H. Maclellan Foundation; Mr. Herbert “Book” McCray – Former Assistant Principal, Hamilton County Department of Education; Mr. Bob Marshall (Chairman, Bible in the Schools) – Executive Vice President, Energy Solutions; Mr. Donald E. Morton – Attorney, Miller & Martin PLLC; Rev. Gerald O'Guinn – Pastor, Love Fellowship Baptist Church; Mr. John A. Phillips – Retired, Vice President Marketing and Sales, McKee Foods; Dr. W. Gary Phillips – (Vice Chairman, Bible in the Schools) – Senior Pastor, Signal Mountain Bible Church; Minister Felicia Pierce – Human Resources Consultant/Business Partner, CHI Memorial; Mr. Ben Pitts – Agent/Broker, Herman Walldorf Commercial Real Estate; Mr. Jasper A. Reynolds, III – Principal, Lift Media Group; Mr. Bart Rolen – Executive Vice President, Wealth Management, FSG Bank; Mrs. Cathy Scott – President, Bible in the Schools; Mr. James Britton Stansell – General Manager, Republic Parking System; Mr. Tom Edd Wilson – Executive Director, Sheriff’s Foundation, Former President, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce; Mrs. Eleonore H. Williams – CPA, Mauldin & Jenkins.