Hamilton County School District holds off on teacher pay raises

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HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) – Hamilton County School Board held a special called meeting Monday night.

This meeting was to figure out how to use 1.8 million dollars of property tax revenue added to school system’s FY21, 417 million dollar budget proposal.

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Last week, the school board passed a budget a few million dollars short of the previous proposal and made changes like freezing teacher pay step increases.

School Board Member Steve Highlander suggested the 1.8 million dollars go toward reinstating pay raises.

“If anything has to be cut I sure hate for it, for anything to come off the backs of classroom teachers,” Highlander said.

The idea got major push back from School Board Member Rhonda Thurman who called it “tone deaf.”

“There’s a lot of people out there whose students they serve whose parents do not even have a job and a lot of those parents that live over there by our people in central office don’t even have a home, don’t even have a car, don’t even have any toys and we’re worried about a teacher missing 50 dollars a year. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. We ought to be dadgum a shamed of ourselves that’s what we ought to be,” Thurman said.

School Board Member Joe Smith proposed the board put the money into the fund balance.

“Nobody really knows, nobody knows what our revenue is going to be. Nobody knows, but it’s hard for me to believe it’s going to hit that 80 million dollar mark and I’m just afraid we’re going to be right back here in two or three months having to make major cuts,” Smith said.

Both Smith and School Board Member Tucker McClendon expressed frustrations over county guidance in the budget process.

Board members did approve putting the 1.8 million dollars into the fund balance, 6 to 3.

​The budget will be presented to county commissioners Tuesday morning.