Hamilton County Commissioners React to Teacher’s Pay Issue


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Hamilton county teachers and county commissioners have found little common ground as the public debate continues over teacher raises.
The subject did not come up at today’s commission meeting, but there was comment from both sides.

“Who doesn’t want the teachers to get a pay increase? We all did. And that’s why you heard so many commissioners frustrated during the budget process to find that’s the very first thing they cut,” said Sabrina Smedley, District 7 Hamilton County Commissioner.

- Advertisement -

The five commissioners who have been “called out” by teacher groups for not supporting a 34 cent tax increase, or a wheel tax to pay for raises, are adamant that they do support that effort. Commissioner Sabrina Smedley says the money was provided, but misused.

Commissioner Smedley continued, “I’ve called it a bait and switch a number of times. The bait was: we’ll roll out the tax increase by promising our teachers a pay increase, and the switch is – it’s the first thing you cut, and you give them additional staff members instead.”

The teachers ended up with a one-time bonus, and additional support staff instead of a raise in next year’s budget.

Hamilton County Teachers Association president Jeanette Omarkhail said, “It wasn’t that we said, ‘Yeah, we don’t want this.’, it was – we looked at how can we get both this year, and also be able to start working on now – or in the spring and the summer, talking with the district leaders and looking at what we have to do at the state and local level, to move this to get a sustained revenue stream for teachers increases in salaries every year.”

Only two commissioners were at last Sunday’s Town hall meeting for teachers.
District 8’s Tim Boyd was not there.

District 8 Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd said, “With the additional 19 million dollars that the school board was given this year, by the commission, with our blessing, they refused to give the teachers a salary increase. That is not on us. That’s something that young Tucker McClenton and his fellow school board members have to live with.”

“We have to start having our elected people to show that we have confidence in our public school system and we can’t do that until we’re able to make some – some big changes as to where our public education system goes and that’s in a number of different areas,” said Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger.

Previous articleUber tests in-car audio recordings for rider and driver safety
Next articleOrganization delivers 600th bed to child in need
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.