HCDE and Hamilton County Commission Hear Facilities Report

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — The Hamilton county department of Education now has its roadmap for future planning of facilities in the district.

M-G-T consultants presented a 4 hour long review of their study to members of the county commission and the school board today.

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The massive report had a lot for the board members to digest. That’s why it took four hours to go through. But what they saw today is not the final word.

“Let’s cut right to the chase…one-point-36 billion dollars,” said Dan Schmidt.

The figure caught some by surprise…but it can be reduced by several hundred million dollars if you take into account closing inefficient buildings, consolidations and added capacities.
Dan Schmidt, with the consulting group MGT, says the report doesn’t represent a final recommendation.



“We aren’t delivering a report, we’re sharing information and what we think it might be telling us right now, but when we start talking to the community, we’re going to find new ways of solving the same problems,” said Dan Schmidt.

“One of the areas of our strategic focus is efficient and effective operations, and so we obviously have a commitment to making sure we’re continuing to move towards that goal,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, Hamilton County Superintendent.

These are all capitol projects that will be paid for with bonds, and done in 4 to-5 phases. So it’s not like the county will be needing to shell out a billion dollars all at once.

“If you implement some of the building programs that they put into place you’re looking at a substantial reduction and then, you know you’re talking about doing this over a decade or more,” said Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger.

Factors for the facilities audit included each school’s enrollment, capacity, utilization, physical condition, educational program suitability, and technology infrastructure.

Some of the highlights of the preliminary report include:

Closing 15 schools,
Renovating 11 schools
Renovating and additions to 10 schools,
and….Completely replacing 3 schools

“I think everybody believes it’s not in my backyard, and it will be – it’ll be in everybody’s back yard and the reality is we’ve got so many schools that aren’t performing as well as others from the standpoint of how occupied they are or the type of facilities they have,” said Commissioner Chip Baker.

“In some cases, this may be the solution and we can’t find a better third alternative, but, as we say this was data driven, this is what we think it’s telling us, when we start thinking about what will make this plan right for this community, is when we’ll find those answers,” said Schmidt.

The plan is to include community meetings and focus groups in September and October to allow parents, students, staff, and the community to review the plans and provide thoughts on facility changes and upgrades.

A final plan should be in place by December.