School board members voted to move forward with efforts to "bring equity" to Hamilton County schools.

Equity has been a hot topic in education for several weeks now. By an 8-1 vote, board members approved funds for a consulting group to come in and provide solutions. Rhonda Thurman cast the opposing vote, stating that board members are already making progress in that area, and did not need an outside group to help.

Two high school students, from opposite sides of town, stood together to address school board members about the inequities they face in Hamilton County. They encouraged board members to vote to explore options to better serve students in the district.

“To see more diversity whether it be within the student body itself, or within the class opportunity,” said Kadijah Tinker of Lookout Valley.

Chris Smith is a student at Red Bank High School and he spoke about the lack of racial diversity in the classroom.

“It took me the first seven years of my schooling to see another black student that wasn't my sister,” said Smith.

Tinker said she didn't have an African American teacher until she took biology in high school.

“It was just a great learning experience, to learn from someone that didn't look like me. I never had it before,” said Tinker. “It was just the fact that there was never the opportunity to have that.”

Smith and Tinker say integration isn't the only issue of equity. They share similar experiences with not having a diverse curriculum.

“The one that I'm zoned for doesn't have the programs for the basic necessities I need to be successful,” said Smith.

“If they want to go to college they have a lot of AP and honors courses, while my school does not have any have any AP courses,” said Tinker.

Dr. Marsha Drake leads the Equity Task Force. Drake says her group will work with an outside group to bring multiple solutions to the board. One solution could deal with discipline, suspension, and code of conduct.

The Equity Task Force is expected present possible solutions to the board next month.