Hamilton County Commissioners Still Arguing Over School Funding


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Even though the 2020 budget was passed weeks ago, Hamilton County Commissioners are still arguing over funding for the schools.

Last Thursday, Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson announced that he was using his $15,000 dollar bonus, which was included in his contract, as incentive to turn the school system around, to fund a scholarship in honor of his late mother, LaBrenda Johnson.

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Hamilton County Commissioner David Sharpe, was so impressed with Dr. Johnson’s generous scholarship announcement, that he decided to follow his lead.

He said that since the commission had declined to vote for the budget that included pay raises for teachers, he didn’t feel comfortable keeping the 2.5% raise that the commission gets this year.

“I would like to forego my two and a half percent pay raise and contribute that, uh, to that scholarship fund for Dr. Johnson,” said Dist. 6 Commissioner David Sharpe.

But Commissioner Tim Boyd had a different point to make on the district’s recent scores of all 5’s in the composite student growth scores.

“I thank them for proving to the community that this commission and the taxpayers of Hamilton County adequately fund the Department of Ed. for results that we should expect. And I hope this, these results are not one time, but a trend in continuing improvement over the years,” said Tim Boyd, of District 8.

Commissioner Warren Mackey asked to be recognized to rebut Commissioner Boyd.

“You’re talking about a group of people – these teachers, who have worked hard, and they’ve risen to the challenge and it seems to be said that, because they were able to do it, it proves they don’t need any more money and I TOTALLY disagree with that,” said Commissioner Mackey, District 4 Commissioner.

County Mayor Jim Coppinger tried to get the commission to just move forward from the disagreements over the latest school budget battle.

“Nobody was more competitive about the tax increase than me. It’s OVER. You know, it’s over, and you shake hands and you say what can we do going forward, you know we can’t look back,” said Mayor Coppinger.

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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.