Signal Mountain Leaders Move Toward Separate School System

Signal Mountain is the latest community to consider setting up its own school district.

Red Bank, East Ridge and Soddy-Daisy officials have also discussed it, but leaders in Signal Mountain already have a blueprint in-hand.

Here’s where it stands now.

A group of Signal Mountain citizens last year began investigating a separate school district. The community has 3 schools and about 8-thousand residents. New mayor Chris Howley says he believes the idea is feasible, but for now he wants to see how the community really feels about that idea

MAYOR CHRIS HOWLEY, SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, TN  “…but really I have not been hands-on with these folks, its been more they came to me, did some investigation, came back to me and showed me some numbers, those numbers were intriguing, uh I think they really went after, hey is there anything that kills this?”

Howley put three criteria into the mix, if the idea were to go any further.

MAYOR HOWLEY  “..and that it had to be kind if an open and transparent process. You guys can’t hide behind some name and your names have got to be out there, but the three things its got to improve, help or improve the education and take care of the folks in the town.”

Mayor Howley also says the issue has to be revenue neutral, and it has to then go to a referendum of the people, and let the town decide.

Because Signal Mountain has some of the top performing schools, Howley says some may think there’s a hint of elitism.”

MAYOR CHRIS HOWLEY  “To me it shows a systemic problem. Cause Red Bank’s issues are going to be different than our issues, and different that East Ridge issues.”

County and school board leaders are taking a neutral stance so far, but some have doubts.

COMMISSIONER SABRINA SMEDLEY, DISTRICT 7  “Its not going to be as easy as it sounds, because as you know the department of education owns some of the property …and stuff like that , so its going to be difficult.”

RHONDA THURMAN, DIST. 1, HAM. CO. SCHOOL BOARD  ” They’re going to have to get it past the state first, the state has to approve it first..before it comes to the county..and the next hurdle the county will have is what to do about the buildings.”

The school district would not necessarily have to sell the school buildings to Signal Mountain, but those problems were worked out in Shelby county.

The city and county school districts there merged, and six communities successfully started their own district.

The Signal Mountain town council is expected to take the next step.

Signal Mountain residents approved a sales tax several years ago to pay 10-million dollars toward its new middle-high school.
That debt is almost paid off.


Categories: Education, Local News

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