Superintendent Smith says he is staying

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Hamilton County Superintendent Rick Smith talks about where he stands with the school system after last night’s board meeting.

After the board decided to reject his buyout offer, Smith says he will stay in the job for the rest of his three year contract.

So how will he re-connect after negotiating with the board for his departure from the job?

Smith says he will begin addressing issues at the next board meeting.

“This is a good time for us to reflect on some things.”

And he will reconnect with people and institutions this week.

“I want the board to have confidence in me.”

This afternoon, Smith blamed a variety of sources for the system’s recent struggles.

Himself (“a little bit”), the media, and the public.

“The Ooltewah situation took on a life of its own.”

The Superintendent addressed several issues facing the school system now.


Smith says one of his first moves will be discussing with the board about re-opening the communications office.

The system closed the office five years ago.

One of the major complaints during the Ooltewah crisis was poor communication with the public.

School Threats:

The Superintendent notes that the latest round of threats ended abruptly when five students were caught.

While safety is an ongoing priority for the schools, “last week was more like the old proverbial ‘bomb threat week.”

Still, he says this is a highly sensitive time and “we’re going to report everything.”

Testing Issues:

“The testing system is problematic.”

Superintendent Smith says they still don’t have materials for the spring testing; they still just have pencil and papers.

Since other school systems are further ahead on the testing curve, he says teachers are not on a level playing field.

“We’ve got a disadvantage in Hamilton County.”

School Budget:

Superintendent Smith says the next budget debate is looming in Hamilton County.

He says if he made people uncomfortable last year by asking for more money, get ready for more this summer.

And he says straight out, “we’ve not had the local support we should had had” when it comes to taxes and funding.

Overall, despite the turmoil of the last few months, the Superintendent will not shrink from issues facing the school system.

“I’m not going to change the way I think about things.”

Watch the interview in two parts on the News 12 Facebook page.

Categories: Education, Hamilton County, Local News

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