Hamilton County teachers, students rally in support of proposed tax increase
Hamilton County officials held a press conference Wednesday morning to discuss the county's proposed budget, which includes a 34-cent property tax increase.
The tax increase would cover $34 million of additional funding for the school system's budget.
Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said this tax increase was needed to meet the needs of students in Hamilton County.
During the press conference, Hamilton County teachers and students held a rally to show their support.
The $34 million of additional funding would allow for items like new technology, upgrades in old facilities and a 5% pay raise for teachers.
For a family with a $200,000 home, that would mean an additional $170 a year or about $14 a month.
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For Jade Watts, a music teacher at Daisey and McConnell Elementary Schools, she said students need experienced teachers, which won't happen without this pay raise.
"If we want to attract and retain new teachers and experienced teachers, we need to have competitive pay."
Julia Becker, a junior at the Center of Creative Arts School, said she's lost several teachers over the years to better-paying jobs outside the county.
"They are moving to places where they will be paid better, like even more rural counties will pay their teachers higher wages than we do here, so I'm losing fantastic teachers just because they know they can't live off the wage that we pay them in Hamilton County," Becker said.
The additional funding in the school's proposed budget would also allow for more positions like counselors.
For Watts, she said she has seen first-hand the need for those counselors to help students with social and emotional needs.
"I see lots of students who need solid guidance and support, and right now our guidance counselors are only at our schools three days a week," Watts said. "It's hard to tell a student who is having troubles 'Oh honey, wait until Thursday when the guidance counselor is here.' That's ridiculous and shouldn't be happening."
County commissioners are expected to vote on the proposed budget on June 26.