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The UnifiEd Student Voice Team's School Board Blog
This meeting is a work session, so it lacks the typical recognitions and introductions of a typical meeting. Additionally, nothing is voted on at this meeting so all discussion is for the purpose of revising documents and policies that are in the works and not for the purpose of debating on how to vote on something. If you are more of a fan of the democratic process and discussion side of school board meetings and not the arguing and politics side of school board meetings, then this is the meeting for you.
Policy and Discipline Discussion
Although this meeting started out with some rather boring policy stuff, from the perspective of a legal nerd it was a neat behind the scenes look into how many policies it takes to run a school system. The most notable thing from this policy discussion for students, teachers, and families was the discussion about the new code of conduct. The new code of conduct is a 30 page document, replacing the 21 year old tri-fold pamphlet used previously, created to add a layer of consistency across schools in Hamilton County for similar violations of the code of conduct. This also reduces the maximum length of suspensions that a principal can determine to 10 days, anything longer than that must be approved by the School Board.
The most notable discussion of the meeting was the discussion surrounding the budget for fiscal year 2020. The initial proposed budget asked for a 34 million dollar budget increase which was not passed by the County Commission. The new budget in the works has created a balanced budget. Seeing the aspects of the old budget that were retained in this budget was encouraging as it showed that the School Board’s desire to improve our schools will not be stopped by a lack of financial support from the County Commission; however, seeing the things that were cut from the proposed budget was disheartening. Hearing school board members debate about if cutting general instruction fees or providing reading interventionists or classroom materials would be more impactful on students and communities was discouraging as well. Our representatives shouldn’t have to be having these discussions: our county should provide them with the financial support to do everything we possibly can to give these students what they need. Our children of today are the future leaders, workers, and minds of tomorrow. To abandon the needs of our children now is essentially to abandon the needs for bright minds and capable workers in the Chattanooga of tomorrow.
Thank you to all of the school board members for your time and service, but thank you especially to Jenny Hill and Joe Wingate. Jenny, after hearing all of this discussion it is so incredibly impactful to students to be reminded that the community does care about education, because sometimes it really doesn’t feel that way. Joe, after hearing the same items harped upon meeting after meeting by certain school board members it means a lot for someone to finally say focus on what we can fix or else we won’t be able to get anywhere.