Merging, building schools is talk of District 3 County Conversation

Merging, building schools is talk of District 3 County Conversation

March 16th, 2011 by Katie Ward in Community Hixson

District 3 Hamilton County Commissioner Mitch McClure, County Mayor Jim Coppinger and District 3 School Board member Everett Fairchild, from left, meet with Hixson residents inside the new Hixson Middle School gym. Photo by Katie Ward

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, County Commissioner Mitch McClure and School Board member Everett Fairchild are talking about merging current schools and building new ones in District 3.

"We've been planning to build Red Bank Middle School for a few years, but we are held up due to the United States Department of Interior," said Coppinger. "We will be glad when they build Red Bank Middle School, so we will see where we stand in the future with bond money for more schools."

Coppinger said he is confident the Hamilton County School System and the Hamilton County Commission will work out their PILOT agreement and that the money will go to schools. Hamilton County Commission decided to hold in escrow about $6 million of payment-in-lieu-of-taxes money.

The school system had planned to use it for its operating budget. Commissioners plan to use the PILOT money for school construction.

McClure said the County Commission should have influence on how to spend the PILOT money.

Fairchild said if money is available to build a new school, Falling Water and Ganns Middle Valley need to be replaced.

"Falling Water Elementary School is small and needs to be closed," he said. "It costs too much to operate. Some of these kids come off the mountain and it's easier for them to go to Soddy-Daisy schools."

McClure said the goal is to combine the schools in the middle of that area. He said the Board of Education has a plan in place to replace Falling Water and Ganns Middle Valley Elementary schools with one new school.

Alpine Crest Elementary School, DuPont Elementary School and Rivermont Elementary School might be combined as well in order to build a new school to house students zoned for those schools, he said.

Mayor Coppinger to speak in Hixson March 22

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger will be the featured guest at the next Friends of Hixson community meeting inside North River Civic Center March 22 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

"The Friends of Hixson will have four meetings per year and one every quarter to give the community a way to voice questions and help with projects," said group board member David Queen. "Our first speaker will be Mayor Coppinger. He will talk and open it up for questions."

Friends of Hixson board member Marv Martin will give an update on group projects like public art and fundraisers. Board member and Hixson Utility District general manager Gene Huffine will talk about economics in Hixson. An official with the city of Chattanooga Police Department will present information about crime in the area.

"The whole idea is to invite the community to come in," said Queen. "I've spoken to County Commissioner Mitch McClure and Councilwoman Pam Ladd about speaking at future meetings."

Queen said the Friends of Hixson would like to host the second meeting in May.

"We are looking for volunteers to be involved with the Friends of Hixson," said Queen. "We are interested in homeowners associations being active with us."