Editorial: Meeting is a Vision, Not a Reality

ADDRESSING THE CROWD -- Mr. Smith had a large crowd at the District 9 Board Meeting.

ADDRESSING THE CROWD — Mr. Smith had a large crowd at the District 9 Board Meeting.

On Tuesday, April 14, parents and students from Central High School attended the District 9 School Board Meeting, held by Hamilton County Superintendent Rick Smith. With the intentions of gaining more knowledge as to why Central High School seems to be lacking funds to repair certain aspects of the school, parents and students left the meeting unsatisfied. Over 200 peopleĀ attended the meeting, and out of those 200, dozens left before the meeting was even over. It was apparent to these parents that the meeting was not going to be what they had expected.

This District 9 board meeting’s intended purpose was for Mr. Smith to discuss his future plans for Hamilton County schools. In order to fulfill Mr. Smith’s vision of making Hamilton County “the smartest school system in the south,” he has proposed a 40-cent tax increase, which will raise the board’s budget of $345 million to $379 million.

In addition to discussing the future tax increase, Mr. Smith showed the crowd the budgets of several schools in District 9. Quite a few people at the meeting were surprised to see the major gaps in the maintenance budgets for the different schools. Central High School’s capital maintenance budget is roughly $44,000 per year, while Ooltewah High School’s capital maintenance budget is closer to $66,000 per year. This is because Ooltewah is a bigger school with more students.

“I thought [Rick Smith] had a lot to say. I really don’tĀ agree with how money is distributed between the schools. I just feel like we need to have more meetings like this because I think a lot of the information that was addressed was not public knowledge,” stated Central student Savannah Smith, a sophomore who attended the meeting.

After the superintendent finished speaking about the his future plans for Hamilton County, he allowed the people who remained in the meeting to ask questions. While quite a few people from other schools in the district asked questions, the majority of the questions were spoken by Central High parents and faculty.

“In my opinion, the community meeting was directed more towards a vision than a reality. Yes, there is a vision of what our schools could be, but the reality is that if funds are being raised, then we need to put those to logical uses, such as repairs to aging schools,” commented Central parent Rachel Campbell, who was not overly impressed with the meeting.

Most of the questions were inquiries about what bit of the the tax increase would actually benefit Central. Nearly all the questions asked about the funds for repairing Central were avoided, answered with a change of subject, or directed to the District 9 County Commissioner Mr. Chester Bankston, who is in charge of the spending in District 9.

“[The meeting] wasn’t as productive as I would have liked for it to have been; however, I think it sent a really strong message to those politicians that Central has a very passionate student body and parental group,” said Central principal, Mr. Finley King.

The Central Digest hopes that some good will come out of this meeting and some much-needed changes at Central will happen soon.