Hamilton County School Board facilities committee members joined Superintendent Rick Smith in saying "it's time to move forward" on new school buildings and security cameras.
At a joint meeting with some Hamilton County Commissioners at Chattanooga School for Liberal Arts (CSLA), Smith said, "Now is a grand opportunity to expand CSLA to K-12. We have the land, and we have the chance to make this one of the finest schools in the state, if not the country."
Smith said a new middle school was also needed at East Hamilton, where land is available near the current Apison Elementary campus.
District 8 representative David Testerman spoke passionately about the delay in building a new CSLA, which has been on the county's "wish list" since 1999. "We have been talking about the needs and growth in East Brainerd for twenty years," he said. "It's time for elected officials to work together and do what's right for our children and our adults."
On the topic of surveillance cameras at county schools, Smith said, "I never thought the day would come when we would need school resource officers, but we do. And now we need cameras. Recent acts of vandalism could have been prevented, and some of them are quite expensive."
Some $2.1 million has been earmarked for surveillance equipment, following the sale of the old Ooltewah Elementary property, but Commissioners have balked at putting the proceeds of the sale of East Brainerd Elementary into the school district's general fund. Commissioners prefer to divide the money among themselves to spend on school projects within their own districts, a plan that has met with disapproval from School Board members.
District 8 Commissioner Tim Boyd said there's no gridlock or delay on the surveillance camera issue, saying it has been approved, and School Board members should move ahead with their plans.