UPDATE: The Signal Mountain Town Council voted to disband the School System Viability Committee (SSVC) on Monday night.

The vote was unanimous at 5-0.

This vote means the SSVC fulfilled its obligation and that it no longer exists. 

Schools on Signal Mountain will remain with the Hamilton County Department of Education for now.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.


PREVIOUS STORY: The Signal Mountain Town Council met with Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson and school board officials during a meeting at Nolan Elementary on Thursday. The meeting was open to the pubic. However, public comments were not allowed. It lasted an hour and a half. Yet, no decision was made as to whether Signal Mountain schools will call it quits or not. But both sides said they did not expect any resolutions. 

Some parents in the crowd said the council's arguments were embarrassing.

"I don’t know what the problem is to tell you the truth," said Signal Mountain parent, Nancy Caldwell. 

Caldwell has lived on the mountain for 35 years. Her oldest daughter graduated from the middle/high school last year. 

"I asked her and she said she was better prepared than 90 percent of her classmates for college. My other daughter is a sophomore and she’s doing excellent," said Caldwell. "We have excellent schools and I’m not sure how they are expecting to improve them. I’m more afraid that things will go backwards instead of forward."

Caldwell and many others still don't understand how breaking away from Hamilton County schools will be beneficial. 

Town council members and  Hamilton County school board members debated the topic as the majority of each group sat on separate sides of the room. Town council members listed several concerns including, the school district's size, class sizes, enrollment and funding. 

"At some level, Signal Mountain is getting to the point where we are giving, but at the same time we don't want to see our kids go without," said Mayor Chris Howley. "I don't want to point at the HCDE because I don't think that all is an HCDE issue, maybe it's a county issue." 

Councilwoman Amy Speek also claimed there is a 20 to 30 percent decline from elementary to high school in Signal Mountain's HCDE funds. She added that a turnover of principals at the high school is another concern.

But School Board Member, Kathy Lennon  says  she knew nothing about this split issue when she was elected to the school board. She says she was surprised to hear about many of the concerns the council has. 

"During my term on the school board, I've never had anyone from Signal Mountain approach me about requesting extra needs," said Lennon. 

Later in the meeting Howley asked Dr. Johnson and other HCDE officials to point out what they agree or disagree with from the School System Viability Committee (SSVC) final report. But Dr. Johnson responded saying "there's no question that the SSVC report is helpful."

He eventually added that the SSVC's report intention was to explore viability, rather than focusing on how to improve student learning, student achievement, etc. Dr. Johnson then said the topic of separation is distracting everyone from focusing on the students. 

"The reason this school system as a whole isn't the top in the state is because of the topic of this discussion," said Johnson. "Don't allow personal agendas to ruin something special. Let's not make it about separating. Let's make it about figuring this thing out together. That's how you build greatness."