Hamilton County Commissioners Upset About Teachers Raises Being Cut


Members of the Hamilton county commission were not happy this morning.

That comes as they questioned school leaders about their failure to include a teacher pay raise in the revised budget they submitted for 2020.

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“I’m just kind of, I’m not real happy with the result. Because it was, you heard up here, I mean, our focus, and we don’t have line item veto, is about the teachers. And you’ve got 12 million going back in the fund balance, I just don’t get why we can’t take care of the teachers a little better,” said Commissioner Chip Baker.

Former school board member, commissioner Chip Baker led the questioning of school leaders about their change of course.

Commissioners believed teachers would get a 2 and a half percent raise instead of the 1500-dollar one time bonus for all full-time employees this year.

“There was another proposal put out there that – to look at some other options, and one of those options was to not do a two and a half percent raise, instead do a one time bonus out of fund balance. That is something this was um, talked about throughout the collaborative conferencing process and an option (that) was on the table,” said School Finance Director Brent Goldberg.

Baker and others were not happy with the change, but the commission does not have authority to change any part the school district’s budget.

Commissioner Tim Boyd asked, “How many more new employees with new positions is that going to be?”

Goldberg replied, “The proposed budget included in the county budget has one hundred and eighty-eight and a half new positions.”

The President of the Hamilton County Education Association, said most of the teachers she heard from valued that, more than the raises.

“With this last vote, overwhelmingly I heard from teachers calling me, saying, ‘I want to give up my raise to have the supports’,” said Jeanette Omarkhail, President of the Hamilton County Education Association.

Omarkhail says the teachers group plans to ask for a substantial raise next year. They, and all full time employees will get the 1500-dollars each on November 22nd.

The commission will vote next Wednesday on the budget, which includes 418-million for schools.

There’s no tax increase, but 8-million dollars will come from the Hamilton County Department of Education Rainy Day Fund.


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Ashley is a lifetime Chattanooga area resident, and a 1987 graduate from UTC, with a BA in communications. While there, he was commissioned through the ROTC program, served simultaneously in the 1/181st field artillery Tn. Army National Guard, finished Airborne school, was a member of the Scabbard and Blade military honor society and ROTC Rangers, the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, played snare drum with the UTC Marching band, and played in a southern rock band called Southern Atmosphere, while working a full time job as a trainer at the Sports Barn. He also won the Southeastern United States teenage bodybuilding competition during this time. Ashley has been with News 12 Now for 21 years. Prior to working here he was a videographer, director, producer and editor at Falcon Cable TV in Dalton, Ga. for 6 years where he produced thousands of commercials and dozens of hour long features. He also worked as a freelancer and employee at another network affiliate in Chattanooga. He has operated a part time video production business from home for 25 years. He says his passion is telling stories that feature people who give of themselves to help others, and stories that inspire people to make positive changes in themselves and their communities. Ashley is ecstatically married to Debbie Henderson, and has two step sons, a daughter in law, a sister, and lots of aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews. His parents are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. Ashley and Debbie are active members of Brainerd Baptist Church. His interests include weight training and cycling with his wife, photography, poetry, playing drums, and checking off items from his extensive honey-do list. If you would like to reach Ashley, email him at ahenderson@wdef.com.