Former Hamilton County Commissioner Responds to Facilities Report Recommendations


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — A Consulting Group’s preliminary report on School facilities in Hamilton county was unveiled in a community meeting last night. It focuses on combining schools and closing dozens more.

“One point three six billion dollars,” said Dan Schmidt with MGT Consulting Group.

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MGT Consulting Group released it’s preliminary report in July, and many local officials were stunned at the 1.36 billion price tag.

Their recommendations include renovating 11 schools; building on to 10 schools; closing a total of 15 school buildings, and creating 3 new schools.

These proposals also come with suggestions for moving a lot of students to different locations, and sometimes, to different schools.

At the Lookout Valley community meeting Wednesday night, former Hamilton County Commissioner Joe Graham was outspoken against many of those suggestions.

“I think every citizen in Hamilton County has a stake in this. It doesn’t matter if you live in Sale Creek or Lookout Valley or Lookout Mountain,” said Joe Graham, former Hamilton County Commissioner.

One of the suggestions from that preliminary facilities report, is to add two levels to this existing building here at Lookout Valley Middle and High School, and then take the students from Lookout, and Lookout Valley elementary schools and bring them together here, under one roof.

“The plan that we are seeing is to make these mega, 1,200 student schools, when right now the reason that the smaller schools are successful is just that; they’re small, they’re small. The principal knows everybody in the building, the teachers know all the students. You put twelve hundred students in one building, I don’t care where it is, you lose that one on one connection, you lose that neighborhood school,” said Graham.

“Some schools are quite small, we’re talking under 300 students. When you get down that small, you’re talking about a school where the per pupil funding doesn’t cover the cost of operating that school,” said Dan Schmidt, Director of MGT Consultants.

The final facilities report with recommendations, after community input from several public meetings, will be presented to the Hamilton County School Board by MGT Consultants in early March of 2020.