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Signal Mountain split questioned during "Community Listening Tour"

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

The possibility of Signal Mountain schools splitting from Hamilton County was a hot topic Thursday night. 

Teachers, parents and city officials of signal mountain discussed their concerns with Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson during the third stop on his Community Listening Tour in Red Bank, Thursday. 

READ MORE | New Hamilton Co. superintendent shares goals, sets community meetings

Though Dr. Johnson did not give a specific answer on the split, he did say the district will provide more answers and insight on what's to come soon. 

Eric Goddard, a Signal Mountain parent, says he's worried about the impact a split will have on his children. The father of five says he loves the quality of education his children have and will soon receive on the mountain, but worries that may change. 

"We don't want to leave and neither do our neighbors and neither do many of us residents. This is our community too and we value the experience of being part of the broader system and the diversity we find there," said Goddard. 

Hamilton County oversees Signal Mountain schools, but the town's School System Viability Committee (SSVC) has spent months researching ways to form its own school district. 

READ MORE | Signal Mountain school viability committee shares findings from Memphis visit?

"I have read two different 40 page documents put out by the viability committee that don't prove conclusively that it could be managed well," said Goddard. 

Signal Mountain Mayor, Chris Howley, says while no decision has been made, the district has been supportive throughout the process. 

"Number one, I can't make a decision until I have the facts. Number two, I think it will help us look at better ways we can educate our kids not only on Signal Mountain, but hopefully some we can help share with HCDE," said Howley. "Nobody involved in this wants them to fail. Everybody wants them to get better and so hopefully the more input they get with Dr. Johnson being in here that we can lift up the education for everybody in the county."

Howley says the SSVC's full report on the split should be ready in one or two months. 

Parents, teachers and community members in district two just want the facts out in the open. 

"I've had some concerns that part of this process has been behind closed doors. I hope for robust and public debate and I am optimistic that that will happen," said Goddard. "The way to solve those challenges is not to leave but to invest further." 

County Mayor Jim Coppinger said the county will hold a session on Sept. 7 to discuss the Signal Mountain split. 

The meeting will be at Signal Mountain Middle/High at 6:30 p.m. 

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