🏫 School Board Enthusiasts 🏫 The UnifiEd Student Voice Team's School Board Blog
Intro: The April School Board Meeting began with recognizing two schools’ mock trial teams and their participants. In past years, the local Tennessee Bar Association competition has been dominated by...
private high schools, but this year, Signal Mountain and CSAS were among the top teams. Among the students recognized were two of our own SVT members: Kaitlyn and Vickie, one of our newest hires.
After several other recognitions, the meeting turned to discussions on the ChattAcademy, a charter school that is now approved by the School Board and will work to support Spanish and English speaking students in a dual full immersion program, a new position for a District Athletic Director, a role that HCS had previously combined with a disciplinary role, and the budget for next school year, which is being solidified and readied for a final vote, among other issues. The long-winded discussion of teachers’ salaries was also a primary focus in the meeting related to the 22-23 Fiscal Year Budget.
Teachers' Pay & Budget Vote Delay (Liliana):
The starting salary for teachers in HCS with a bachelor's is $41,876, and for a master's, it is $44,913. This is roughly over $3,000 per month. Teachers work tirelessly for students to help get them the education they need. Marco Perez talked about the pay per two weeks for starting teachers, saying that due to the benefits like insurance, teachers who took up the benefits only bring home about $300 instead of s$600 every two weeks. I think it's absurd for teachers to have to decide whether to get insurance that way they are healthy or bring about $300 more home. While the benefits HCS offers are great compared to other counties in Tennessee, like medical, dental, and more, living necessities are getting more and more expensive by the day, such as gas prices.
Joe Smith was saying that it’s not due to the salary that teachers are leaving; it’s due to the students' behavior. He also stated that there is a disciplinary issue in schools. I wouldn't say that students' behavior is the whole reason teachers leave schools; it’s a mixture of things, like students' behavior, salary, and sometimes even the work environment. The compensation consideration for the salary increase was 1% which will cost HCS 3.1 million dollars or 0.5%, which would cost about 1.55 million dollars. Teachers deserve better pay. Just to have that percent increase could benefit a lot of the staff.
The School Board held back the vote for the FY 22-23 budget. As Mrs. Robinson said, it's a great idea to push back the vote on the budget so they can have a better understanding of what they could do with the money. It is better to plan and figure out what's better for the schools, students, and staff.
Delegations (Maurquez): One of this month’s delegations was Blair Brown, a parent who discussed the bullying report of her child. Since the second week of school, her son had been bullied, but she only had the reports for Mid-March 2022. I totally understand why this parent is upset. What makes a district feel that it is ethical to censor bullying reports? Her son has been bullied for seven months, and the mother had no account of that. Mental health is very important, and if parents are not being notified of continuous bullying involving students, our district does more harm than good.
Ms. Latrica Chatman, Softball Head Coach at Brainerd High School, requested a softball field from the School Board. Ms. Chatman is a Brainerd alum and only wishes the best for the softball team. The team practices in a muddy grass field, and the equipment is held in a portable. These young ladies have never practiced on an actual softball field nor had a field with stadiums. The School Board is probably not astonished by the grass “field” conditions on which the softball team practices because Brainerd is often overlooked. Although there was great support from School Board Members Robinson and Jones, sadly, I don’t believe the School Board will deem the softball field a priority. As a student at Brainerd, the inequities that Brainerd faces in athletics and academics are an everyday thing.
I hope that the School Board considers a different approach with the censorship regarding the bullying-reporting process and actually allocates funds to support Brainerd’s softball team. Parents have the absolute right to demand answers to why bullying reports about their children are being censored. During the delegations, Coach Chatman said it best: "I’m asking for you to give us a field and nice stands for our fans. Help me help them. These young ladies have multiple issues they deal with in their community. The majority of these girls have never set foot on a softball field. They are dedicated to the game”. Having a home softball stadium would create life-changing experiences for the young ladies on the team. Watching a home advantage game is more thrilling than an away game. Hopefully, the School Board takes the Brainerd softball team stadium into deep consideration.