I Support Tom Decosimo

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Tomorrow is an important day for our county, and for our schools. We will have the opportunity to vote in a new member to represent District 2 on the Hamilton County School Board, and this vote will have long lasting repercussions in our communities. Many people have asked my opinion on the two candidates in the running for this position, and I wanted to take a moment to publicly state that I (early) voted for Tom Decosimo. I have met Marco Perez once, and he seems like a very nice person, but he is not who I chose to support, for the reasons listed below.

1. Tom Decosimo is running as an individual, not as a representative of a much larger group. Perez is backed by Hamilton County United, a group that formed after the disintegration of Unified. As stated in a “teacher’s guide for voting” on the Facebook page for this group, their goal is to get their three candidates voted onto the school board now, and in two years, they plan to support candidates for the additional seats on the board, as well as all nine county commission seats and the county mayor position. This concerns me. First, I want a school board representative who stands on his own values and votes accordingly, not one who could potentially vote based on the wishes of a large group supporting him. Second, do we really want one group to have such control over the education decisions made for our children in Hamilton County? Not me, no thank you. This group claims to represent “the teachers” in Hamilton County, but I know for a fact that they do not represent every teacher, which is what they would like you to believe.

2. I feel like we need more conservative leadership on the school board, and I feel like Tom is the candidate who will be most likely to bring that to the table. 

3. Due to COVID-19, some really hard decisions will more than likely have to be made in the next year or so in regards to budgeting. Tom has years of experience in managing large budgets, and I feel that he is the candidate who will be the most responsible in stewarding taxpayer dollars.

4. Tom believes more should be done by the community to make sure children arrive at school ready to learn, and I agree. It is not the job, or should not be the job, of the school system to address the needs of children outside of the realm of education, although that has become a major part of teacher responsibilities today. Tom proposes partnering with community non-profit organizations such as the United Way, community churches, etc. to help address these needs, so that teachers can focus more on teaching. Currently, our rate of children who are able to read on grade level by third grade is pitiful, and who is hurt most in this scenario? The children! It makes it very difficult for these children to ever catch up, which just sets them up for a life of poverty. How can this ever be effectively addressed if teachers cannot teach because there are other needs they are trying to meet inside the classroom?

5. Tom believes in a fair and enforceable code of conduct, not "aerodynamic paddling" as put forth by opposition groups. I wholeheartedly agree. There has to be discipline - and I am not taking about physical discipline - in a classroom and a school, or chaos ensues.

6. Tom advocates for a clean, healthy, and nurturing learning environment for all students - YES! Some of the conditions of the buildings in which the children in Hamilton County must attend school are deplorable - completely unacceptable!

I realize that there are people who will see this, and will completely disagree with me, and may even be offended. I hate that, and I am glad that friendships don't have to depend on having the same viewpoint on everything in life. We can agree to disagree, and that is the joy of democracy.

Kayse Rigsby
Signal Mountain


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