HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) – The Hamilton County School Board had a lot to discuss at tonight’s school board meeting, including an ongoing decision for a Partnership Zone, a vision for special needs students and estimated costs for school reconstruction.
The meeting started off with nominations for next year’s chair, where both Steve Highlander and Karitsa Jones received nominations. The board voted to keep current leadership in place, reeelected Dr. Highlander as chair and nominating Karitsa Jones as vice chair.
A decision was made tonight to forward in creating a resolution for low-performing schools.
In April, the state proposed that the school system and state work together to create a Partnership Zone to support the schools.
Commissioner McQueen was under the impression the vote on the partnership would happen tonight, stating she expected a decision in September. There was no formal request, therefore no official vote on the state’s proposal was made.
Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson suggested an alternative. “I think initiating a conversation is what we need to decide tonight”.
The board voted 7-2 to move forward with the state’s resolution to continue conversations about Partnership Zones. Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson clarified the agreement is to converse and see what a partnership will look like.
Highlander said the contract will be worked on over the next several months.
Parents from the Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts (CSLA) expressed concerns about the estimated costs for new Hamilton County schools.
Tonight they shared a presentation on how the department can approach lowering costs of repairs and reconstruction for these priority schools. For the past six months, the group has researched the historical cost of school construction in the region.
Speaker Neil Placer said, “I have verified these costs with local construction companies and buildings that are currently under construction.”
Another group presented a vision for inclusive education for students with special needs in Hamilton County.
Inclusive Education and Opportunities discussed current statistics on how often children with special needs spend time in the general education classroom in Hamilton County versus other districts across the state. They say that right now about 6,000 Hamilton County students have a disability that qualifies them for exceptional services.
The group is asking HCDE to adopt a three year plan to rebuild the education of children with special needs in the community.