UPDATE: Hamilton Co. Commission approves school building plans
UPDATE: It's official: Four Hamilton County schools will be getting millions of dollars to renovate and repair, while students at two more schools will continue to study in shoddy buildings.
The Hamilton County commission Wednesday morning voted unanimously to approve $48 million in funding to help local schools.
The plan is to combine Ganns Middle and Falling Water into one new building, add on to Sale Creek Middle/High, Nolan Elementary and Wolftever Elementary. But the project leaves a new CSLA and a new East Hamilton Middle School off the list.
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"This is not a battle between parents, this is not a battle between schools. This is about making the education system in Hamilton County better," said Sale Creek Parent Christy Turner.
Sale Creek mom Christy Turner said it's a good day in local education. Her kids will benefit from $12 million in school renovations but even CSLA moms like Amy Scott, who says the vote wasn't a surprise, find some silver lining.
"We are so happy for Ganns, we are so happy for Falling Water and we are so happy for Sale Creek. Those schools deserve a building so much and deserve a better environment in which they can learn," Amy Scott said. "We are very thankful that we have started a dialogue, that we've been acknowledged and that we're going to go forward from here."
Scott said they'll continue advocating for their kids, holding out hope that next time they'll make the cut. That means going to school board meetings, commission meetings and talking with the superintendent.
"We're gonna do what we do, we're gonna talk about the needs of this school system, we're gonna talk to the mayor and bring them forward," said Supt. Rick Smith.
Supt. Rick Smith and the School Board identified six major construction projects totaling almost $140 million but the commission said only $50 million was available, and a tax hike was out of the question. So two of the projects were left off the list.
"Today was a good day for education, a good day for schools, there were six school projects and we were able to fund four," said Commissioner Joe Graham.
Commissioner Tim Boyd said they need to think outside the box to increase funding for schools left off the list.
"We are way behind the curve in fixing the facility needs of our Department of Education," said Commissioner Tim Boyd. "Would I support a tax increase? Not until the county tells me and shows me that we're not using money inappropriately."
If all else fails, he said he's not ready to raise taxes. But for parents like Scott who want a new school, it's not the worst option.
"I have no problem shouldering the responsibility to give our children the education they need," she said.
Supt. Smith has not put a timetable on when CSLA or East Hamilton may get new schools.