At least one Hamilton County School Board member who favors a plan to hire 350 more school employees says government-run schools can do a better job than certain parents tending to a child’s social and emotional needs.
As The Tennessee Star reported, many of these proposed new positions pertain to social and administrative work. Most school board members voted for a budget that includes these new positions. County commissioners must approve the plan. They may have to raise property taxes to fund it.
School Board member Kathy Lennon said many children in the county live in single-parent homes, while children from two-parent families have it easier. Arguing on behalf of money for these new positions, she told The Star this week these children “are victims of their circumstances.”
“So, yes, we (the school district) are their support system. We have to give them what they need. It is our responsibility as educators, as a community, to provide them with the resources they need in order to succeed,” Lennon said.
“Some children don’t know how to go to school. They don’t get to come to school with a full belly. They don’t get to come to school with packs of paper and pencils and everything they need to succeed. We have to know what it is they need. All of their social and emotional needs are not being met at home. We have to do our very best to meet those needs. So, teachers need to have the resources to help those children.”
Lennon went on to say “it truly does take a village to educate the children in our community.”
But County Commissioner Tim Boyd, who will vote on whether to raise property taxes to fund these proposed new positions, said he has a different mindset.
“We cannot be parents to kids. That is not government’s role,” Boyd said.
“We can’t continue to throw more and more money at these government programs that come out of the liberal, left wing(mentality) for these social economic disadvantaged families. That is not our job. I won’t support it.”
As reported, county commissioners might raise property taxes as high as 17 percent to fund the $34 million required to fund these 350 jobs.
School Board member Rhonda Thurman said many of those proposed positions are unneeded.
Proposed new positions include counselors. graduation coaches, a data warehouse programmer, a testing coordinator, a director of social and emotional learning, new assistant principals, and a college and career advisor, among other things.
The money would also pay for 15 new truancy officers, Thurman said.
Boyd, meanwhile, said the school system already has adequate funding compared to neighboring districts in Georgia and Tennessee. The district’s funding per student, he added, is above the state average for Tennessee and above the average for the states of Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Kentucky.
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Kathy Lennon” by Kathy Lennon. Background Photo “Hamilton County Courthouse” by Stephen Matthew Milligan. CC BY-SA 3.0.