Hamilton Co. Commissioners Share Thoughts on Upcoming Meeting With School Board


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — After an otherwise routine Hamilton County Commission meeting this morning, Chairman Randy Fairbanks reminded the members of the joint meeting with the School Board next Monday.

Mayor Jim Coppinger and Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson, set up the joint meeting to discuss, among other things, possible raises for teachers.

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After a long budget battle earlier this year, the school board asked for a 34 cent tax increase, which was voted down by the commission. Commissioners accused the board of bait and switch, and board members accused some commissioners of not caring about students or schools. The budget season ended without a tax increase.

Several Commissioners shared what they hope to see come out of the meeting Monday.

Randy Fairbanks, Hamilton County Commission Chairman, said, “I hope, what will be addressed at that meeting is, the school board will give us some idea of what they’re thinking as far as the capitol projects they’re looking at, from the report that has just come out, and then maybe give us a little thoughts on what they’re thinking as far as operational costs going forward.”

“First of all I hope we can find some common ground with the school board. You know I have a great working relationship with my partner on the school board, Joe Wingate, but I think after coming out of a pretty contentious budget season, it’s very important that we all get on the same page and kind of regroup, because we do have some big issues that we have to take on and find solutions to,” said Commissioner Sabrina Smedley.

One of those big issues is the more than 1 point 3 billion dollars in deferred maintenance and capitol needs that was identified in the facilities report. It was prepared by MGT Consulting Group and presented in July of this year.

“We have a history of finger pointing in Hamilton County for decades now and I certainly hope we can get past that and work towards real solutions. You know, many times, we tend to address these issues in the media with talking points and you know this is too complex of an issue to be addressed in that manner,” said Commissioner David Sharpe.

That meeting will take place on Monday, at the Red Bank Middle School Library at 6 pm.

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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.