Community members voice concerns at school board forum

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Parents, educators, and students attended a forum at Orchard Knob Elementary on Wednesday to voice their concerns.

They spoke out about under performing schools in Hamilton County. They also asked school board members about the superintendent search.

People packed into the Orchard Knob Elementary gym to speak out about schools at a forum hosted by school board members Tiffanie Robinson and Karista Jones.

Some principals say they think the interim superintendent, Kirk Kelly, has done a great job.

“I think I heard some talk about the morale of the teacher’s and administrators. I can honestly tell you it is probably as good as it has been in years under the current leadership that we have,” said Jim Boles, principal of Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences.

They also discussed the state’s proposed partnership plan for the county’s five I-Zone schools.

“We are trying to keep our schools in Hamilton County. We are fighting for them,” Jones said.

Some former educators spoke out, saying state officials have never valued education.

“The Tennessee state government plays politics with our children. I don’t care where you live in the state of Tennessee. We are all going to have failure schools. I am sorry but that is the reality of it,” said Jennifer Woods, a retired teacher.

LaFrederick Thirkill, the principal of Orchard Knob Elementary, says some of the I-Zone schools are doing better.

“My concern is that we always need to celebrate the progress and let the people know that these schools are improving,” Thirkill said.

He says when principals stay for awhile, it makes a difference.

“The stability matters and the stability is helping to improve the schools. So what will you do to ensure that there is not this stirrup or change just for change sake?” Thirkill asked school board members.

State Representative JoAnne Favors will hold a similar forum at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 1, at Dalewood Middle School.

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