In Hamilton County, several school board seats are on the ballot in the August general election. It may come as a surprise that the school board member you elect in your district, may not end up representing your child’s school.  

Joe Wingate grew up in the Tyner area, and graduated from Tyner High School.  As the District 7 School Board member, he represents Bess T. Shepherd Elementary School, within walking distance of Tyner, but he does not represent Tyner High. 

It’s one of many quirks in the Hamilton County school districts, when it comes to which board members represent certain schools.  In District 2, Kathy Lennon represents all the Red Bank schools, but the families of 800 students who attend those schools live in District 6, where Joe Galloway is the School Board member. Why don’t the the districts line up with the board members? Chief Operations Officer, Dr. Lee McDade attributes it to frequent rezoning due to population shifts, and new school construction.

In 2016, the old East Brainerd Elementary was located in District 7. The newer building, opened in 2015, is in District 8, but its board member did not change. Wingate now represents almost 500 families who vote in a different school board race. When District 1's Falling Water Elementary closed in 2016, its students were rezoned to the new Middle Valley Elementary, in District 3.  However, the former Falling Water students' families still vote for the District 1 board member.

Dr. McDade admits residents are confused when they find out their board member has changed, or their student’s school has been shifted to a different district.  But he says it’s all part of the school system’s growth, and says each parent and student are represented.  "I don't think it bothers the board members," Dr. McDade said. "I've never heard any of them complain about getting a call from outside their district.  They work to represent all schools." That feeling was echoed by Wingate, who says, "I get calls all the time from schools all over the county, and we (board members) work together to solve their problems if we can.  I feel like we all represent every student in the county."

Voters and residents can stay current on school districts and board representation by following the HCDE website. The upcoming county general election in August may also include candidates who doesn’t currently live in the district in which they are seeking office. The only requirement is, they must move into that district if they win.