More Than 70 Hamilton County Teachers Sign Open Letter Slamming 5 Commissioners on Tax Increase for Teachers

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — More than 70 Hamilton teachers are calling out members of the County Commission for not passing a wheel tax earlier this month, and for failing to increase taxes in the coming year for teacher raises.

The names of 75 present and former teachers in Hamilton county were listed in an open-letter released to the media yesterday.

Written by teacher Kendra Young, the letter says 5 commissioners have shown they do not stand with them.

Named in the teacher’s letter were commissioners Randy Fairbanks, Sabrena Smedley, Tim Boyd , Greg Martin and Chester Bankston. Teacher Kendra Young accused them of voting against “fair pay” for teachers on two occasions this year. The letter included this statement:

“We are tired of hearing lip service from leaders whose votes do not match their rhetoric. Based on their actions, we have a group of elected officials who are content with our teachers being paid less than those in every surrounding district in both Tennessee and Georgia.”

They got some support this morning from Superintendent Bryan Johnson after his State of the Schools talk to local PTA’s.

“The reality is, you can’t compensate teachers enough. And we talk about being the best, if we want to be the best, we’ve got to have the best teachers in the classroom. And when you talk about the best teachers in the classroom, it’s not all about money, but it is about making sure we compensate them,” said Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson.

But one of the commissioners named in the letter says there’s more to the story.

“I think that the public needs to be aware that the Department of Education got in growth money this year, 26 million, 930 thousand, 569 new dollars this past year. And then in addition to that, the Department of Education found another 10 million 2 hundred thousand, in additional revenue. So that’s 37 million dollars, more than twice what they got the year before in growth. So how the school board allocated that money is really up to them,” said Dr. Greg Martin, Commissioner, District 3.

Earlier this year, commissioners refused to go along with a proposed 37 cent tax increase that was to go in part, for teacher pay raises. Instead, teachers got a $1500-dollar one time bonus…and a small step increase.

The effort to create a 60-dollar per car wheel tax failed on a 5 to 3 vote on October 16th.

“Everybody that’s contacted me via email or text has been, ‘Please don’t be for this wheel tax,'” said Dr. Martin.

Kendra Young urged the community to join the teachers in demanding better from our elected officials.

Categories: Chattanooga, Education, Hamilton County, Local News

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