Dear Commissioners of Hamilton County,
I attended the District 3 community meeting with Commissioner Greg Martin and School Board Chairman Joe Wingate, who was filling in for District 3 Rep. Joe Smith. Commissioner Martin stated he had not made up his mind on how to vote for the tax increase at that time. He requested thoughtful input on why the citizens of his district wanted him to vote for or against the tax increase.
I want to tell you why I want you to vote “Yes” on funding the proposed budget. As an educator in Hamilton County schools, I could certainly give a myriad of reasons why I feel this budget request for an increase in taxes is needed, even more so why it is deserved by the 44,000 plus students of Hamilton County Schools who are counting on you to provide for their futures. However, as I reflected on a more personal level, I want to tell you why, as a mom, I feel this budget is worthy of your vote.
My husband and I are both graduates of Hamilton County schools. We are Hamilton County property owners, Hamilton County small business owners, and we have two children: one is nine years old, a rising fourth grader at a Hamilton County school, and the other will turn three in December. My soon to be three year old will transition into Hamilton County schools at the age of three due to significant developmental delays and disabilities according to the federal law, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
As a parent, when I consider the impact of this budget, I immediately consider the impact it will make on both my nine year old and my soon to be three year old. The beauty of this budget is it is far-reaching, student-focused, created to provide resources, address weaknesses, and provide support for both my children, all children. This budget addresses the needs of our highest achieving student and our more at-risk, challenged students. My very own children represent the distance in which this budget reaches. One who will easily take advantage of future-ready opportunities that lie ahead, and benefit from the full-time college and career advisor at each high school, and another who will also take full advantage but will need additional support and “boots on the ground,” such as academic interventionists or behavior specialist, to allow him equal access.
Accelerating student achievement in Hamilton County schools will continue with your support. As a community, it's our duty to provide all students, including both of my students, a world-class education. It is our job to erase the barriers that exist so that learning can be the sole focus. To me, that is what this budget addresses and why it is worthy of your vote.
Stand behind Hamilton County schools by voting yes to the property tax increase.
M. LeAngela Rogers
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Hamilton County Commissioners
D.C. (Chip) Baker
I am writing in support of the FY20 Hamilton County budget (which includes the Department of Education). The Department of Education has the responsibility of deciding what is best for the education of Hamilton County’s children, and I am confident they have done their job by asking for an increase that considers all children’s best interest. After all, it has been 15 years since Hamilton County Schools received an increase in its budget for our children.
As a product and former educator in the Chattanooga public school system, I understand the needs of many of our students. In my 35 years as a pastor/shepherd, I have always believed in the parable Jesus used in Matthew 25:40, “…Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Over the years, I’ve seen many of our young people fall through the cracks in our system (no fault of their own). This will be a continuation because of the inequality in our educational system, both economically and academically. There is a great need for the passing of this Hamilton County school budget now. Chattanooga’s future depends heavily on the quality of its schools.
Superintendent Bryan Johnson and County Mayor Coppinger have proposed a budget that would accelerate student achievement by hiring and retaining excellent teachers and assistants; adding counselors to reduce the counselor-to-student ratio; doubling social workers; adding 15 attendance specialists to address chronic absenteeism, a state report card accountability measure; placing alternative classroom monitors in every high school; assigning a behavior specialist in each learning community to address discipline in support of a new code of acceptable behavior, and much more.
As Chattanooga continues to grow and because of this moment there is an “Urgency of the now,” It is important that we invest in our children now by expanding the availability of high-quality education for all students in our Hamilton County system.
I strongly encourage all commissioners to vote to approve the FY20 Hamilton County budget, which includes increased funding for Hamilton County schools. I believe that educating our children is not only good for our economy, but it is our moral obligation. We cannot afford to vote against our children now.
Dr. Ternae T. Jordan, Sr.
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Anyone else wonder why a Hamilton County School principal making well over six-figures a year is schlepping in their free summertime hours, asking for something that majority of Hamilton County property owners and residents are against? That’s cute that they tell us they’re a “Hamilton County property owner”. Please notice that their piece is worded ever so carefully so as to imply that they perhaps don’t reside in “Hamilton County”, but instead own land thus qualifying them for an opinion on this by default.
What are the academic barriers they keep opining about? Where is the money they were given 2017? What exactly was done with it?
Schoolchildren actively living within the county deserve all the resources they can get. But principals pleading on something that was dead in the water a month ago is a surely red flag for me.