$10 million cut to student achievement in revised Hamilton Co. Schools budget proposal

$10 million cut to student achievement in revised Hamilton Co. Schools budget proposal WTVC

A trip back to the drawing board leaves the Hamilton County School Board with a balanced budget proposal, at least for the first draft.

But tonight, some education advocates are asking - at what cost?

The revised budget is $33 million less than the original -- a drop from $443 million down to $410 million -- and would not require a property tax increase.

But, one area that saw the greatest proposed cuts is student achievement, and that includes positions like school counselors and social workers.

President of Hamilton County Education Association Jeanette Omarkhail says cutting the student achievement budget is really a loss in support to help them excel.

Board member Jenny Hill agreed, saying it's deeply sobering to see $10 million cut out of that section.

"I want kids to be able to read. That’s what matters to me. I want kids to be able to do algebra, to be able to go to the electrical workers and pass the exam so they can get a high paying job," said Hill.

Another proposal tonight was cutting the 5 percent teacher raises in half to 2.5 percent.

Omarkhail says that takes away from being able to compete with other districts.

"We need to attract teachers to this profession," she said, "They need to be making a living wage so they can live comfortably, so that they can focus on one career, one job and really focus on our kids."

Omarkhail did agree with one issue brought up tonight by board member Rhonda Thurman. Thurman mentioned cutting the general instruction fees for parents entirely - the new proposal has it at nearly $800,000.

Thurman said, "I talked to a lady who told me it’s gonna cost her $600 to put her three kids in school this year so I say, absolutely no. It’s time that the tax payers got something back out of this."

During Thursday's meeting, school board members also discussed different policies and the code of acceptable behavior.

Sydney Edwards was at tonight's school board meeting, and will have more on First at 10 on FOX Chattanooga and NewsChannel 9 at 11.

You can read the budget proposal one-pager below, and find more information on the school district's website here.


This is a developing story - depend on us to update you as we learn more.

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