Hamilton County Board of Education Passes Costly, Controversial Plan

Members of the Hamilton County Board of Education want to spend nearly half a million dollars of taxpayer money on consulting work that possibly isn’t necessary, according to The Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The money, the newspaper went on to say, will “assess the condition of the district’s facilities,” and develop a plan for new projects and maintenance.

Board members voted six to two in favor of the plan, despite what The Time Free Press said was “heated disapproval” from District One Board Member Rhonda Thurman.

The money, $337,915, will pay MGT Consulting Group “to conduct a multi-layered audit of the district’s buildings and their maintenance needs” according to the paper.

Exactly $149,930, meanwhile will go “to study and predict future growth and capacity,” The Times Free Press reported.

The paper quoted Thurman as saying the school district “didn’t need external consultants to inform them about the state of the schoolsbecause it has done that work before and those funds could be better used to actually fix problems.”

“The price tag on this is staggering. … We’re spending $500,000 for someone from out of town to come in and tell us what we should already know,” Thurman said, according to The Times Free Press.

“I don’t need someone to tell me what’s wrong with Soddy-Daisy Middle. I know what’s wrong with Soddy-Daisy Middle.”

Board members approved an additional $33,500 for the local Franklin Architects “to assess and design safer entrances at many of the district’s schools,” the paper said.

The Times Free Press went on to say visitors can now openly access the school and its students “without first encountering a front office or an adult.”

The plan would cost taxpayers about $6,500 per school, Superintendent Bryan Johnson told the paper.

“The district has not hired an outside firm to complete an external audit of its facilities since the 1990s, but last year it received $100 million in bond funds from the Hamilton County Commission to go toward capital projects and maintenance,” according to The Times Free Press.

“District leaders, including Johnson and facilities director Justin Wit, said Thursday the school system has already estimated another $200 million or more is needed in deferred maintenance costs.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Hamilton County Courthouse” by Brian Stansberry. CC BY3.0.

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