UPDATE: A plan to give Hamilton County teachers a raise could be voted on as early as next week.

The proposed budget from the school system would include a 2% salary increase.

The school system is in a unique position right now.

The county raised property taxes giving the school district some extra money for their budget. but some board members are being very cautious with how that money will be spent.

A 2% raise could be on the line for teachers in Hamilton County classrooms. That's one issue board members are tackling as they debate the budget.

Teachers have raised concerns to Dan Liner who is the Hamilton County Education Association president.

"That they are considered secondary in this matter of the budget proposal," Liner said.

On average, a new teacher in Hamilton County makes $38,628. The proposed raise would put nearly 800 dollars in their pocket.

Some argue that's still not competitive with surrounding school systems.

"It's very important that we not only train our teachers, but we also provide resources, but also that we provide financial incentives so that those teachers remain in Hamilton County," Liner said.

While one side says teachers deserve raises, others believe the money should go toward school facilities.

School Board Member Rhonda Thurman says those improvements would stretch a dollar further.

"The teachers got a raise last year and a bonus. It's not that I have anything against teachers, but I don't have anything against the taxpayers and their children either. These schools, some of them, are in shape that the people at the central office would not work at," Thurman said.

Some of that work has already been approved.

Tyner middle and high schools will be consolidated, with CSLA moving into the renovated Tyner middle building.

Harrison elementary and East Hamilton middle schools will get new buildings.

Thurman said she's glad to see that happening, but more needs to be done in other parts of the county.

"This is the reason we haven't done it before now because every time we get our hands on a few million, we spend it. That's not the way you run your household and we shouldn't be running the school that way," Thurman said.

The vote on the proposed budget could come next Thursday.

If it passes, it'll be in the hands of county commissioners to decide whether they will fund the school system's request.


Hamilton County School Board Members are working through the 2019-2020 budget. As a part of this budget they are considering adding resource officers and giving teachers a raise. 
  
Superintendent Dr. Johnson says the board has been responsible with the budget.  They started working on this fiscal plan with a savings of about one million dollars for the next school year.

Hamilton County Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson says the school system has been engaging the community to find out what's most important to them.
“Student safety and support with counselors,  additional art teachers,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, Superintendent. “Additional EL teachers, technology, a significant contribution commitment to technology.”

Dr. Johnson says student safety has always been a priority and now the school system is taking a proactive approach.

“Within our system, electronic locking doors are important to secure our entrances,” said Dr. Johnson.

In recent meetings the board heard safety suggestions from students, parents and Sheriff Jim Hammond.

As the board calculates next year’s budget they hope to provide two additional school resource officers.

Rhonda Thurman says the SROs are beneficial but the total cost should not be left up to the board.

“The sheriff’s department is going to be able to use them when we are not. I don't think it's fair to ask us to spend all of our money paying their entire salary maybe on a prorated basis or something like that,” said Rhonda Thurman, District 1 Board Member.

Johnson says the board has allotted enough for a two percent pay raise for faculty and staff.

“We see our people as key and if we don't have great people, we won't have a great school district,” said Dr. Johnson.

Thurman says so far she is the only one against the pay increase. She says there are more important issues the board needs to address.

“I think we need to take that money and tackle some of the facility issues that we've had I mean we've been talking about it for years,” said Thurman.

According to the school board schedule the proposed budget should be voted on next Thursday.  It will then go before the county commission. That usually happens the first week of May.