Another municipality is looking to break away from the Hamilton County School District and begin their own system. The City of Red Bank is the second to consider leaving the district. Earlier this month Signal Mountain community announced their plans to look into whether the town can form its own school district.
Tuesday Red Bank City officials agreed to create a committee to weigh the pros and cons of setting up its own district. That committee would have to prove a new school district would positively impact residents and taxpayers.
Each city council member will appoint one person to the board, hoping to fill it with city officials and residents. They will be responsible to determine if it's worth having their own Red Bank School System.
As a newly elected Hamilton County School Board Member, Kathy Lennon spent her first month visiting the schools she represents, in Red Bank and Signal Mountain. She never expected those communities would consider creating their own school systems. “There were ramblings that Signal Mountain was considering it, but it was something they've all been talking about. No, I was taken aback,” said District Two School Board Member Lennon.
Earlier this month, Signal Mountain council members discussed a feasibility study to break away from the school district. Red bank commissioners have now voted to do a similar study. “It is called a feasibility study for a reason. We will do all the research and everything to see if it is even possible to do it or not,” said Red Bank Mayor John Roberts.
But School Board Member Lennon has a lot of concerns. “What is the impact on the teachers if you form a smaller district, will they have the same benefits? How about our students? Will they receive the same services?”
Red Bank City Mayor, John Roberts said the potential breakaway has nothing to do with recent controversies in Hamilton County Schools. He believes his city would better serve students as an independent school district. “Local control over school system, more local input, and people would think if we have our own schools the city would consider to prosper in different ways.”
Lennon said she doesn't want either community to create a separate school system. She said it would take top performing schools away from the district and would ultimately hurt the county and its schools. “It is not the spirit of Chattanooga to divide. It is the spirit of Chattanooga that we all work together.”
Red Bank officials encourage residents to give their feedback on the issue. They plan to meet again after the holidays. Both Red Bank and Signal Mountain plan to share their plans with each other.
Scott Bennett the Hamilton County School Board Attorney released this statement to Channel 3.
“In the discussion about how Signal Mountain might fund its own school system, there has been an assumption that the Town would receive 100% of the per capita funds presently being spent in the Hamilton County Schools. That is not the case.
As you are aware, Tennessee funds local education through the Basic Education Program. A significant part of this formula is the extent to which a local education agency can fund its proportionate share of the bill. Wealthier systems can pay more, so they get less money from the State. Poorer systems can pay less, so they get more from the State.
It is entirely correct that the Town would get a per capita amount of County education dollars. It does not follow, however, that the State would allocate the same dollar amount to Signal Mountain as to the rest of Hamilton County. Quite possibly, in view of the proportionately higher property values, the State might reduce funding to the Town vis a vis the County. For certain, Title I dollars would not come to the Town. Consequently, whatever the Town’s per capita funding might be, it would not be safe to assume that it would remain the same as what the County presently has.”