State Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, said Thursday night she intends to find an alternative to the two plans currently being discussed by the school district for rehabilitating its iZone schools.
In a public forum held at Dalewood Middle School, Favors argued there are more options the district should consider.
Her statements came a day after a few Hamilton County school board members held a community forum addressing the public's questions and concerns regarding the state's two options for the district's five low-performing iZone schools: to allow the state to take over their administration by adding them to its Achievement School District (ASD), or for the district to work in unison with the state via a proposed partnership district.
"We've been threatened with going into the ASD," Favors said. "I didn't have anyone call me and tell me they wanted to do this."
Favors referenced other options available to schools as listed on the Tennessee Department of Education website. They include the district leading a conversion of the school to a charter school, an option that would provide a transition from local district control to state control, and even an option to close failing schools.
Favors also argued that the proposal for a partnership between the state and Hamilton County Schools is based on a model designed by Empower Schools, a Massachusetts-based consulting agency that partners with schools to help improve academic performance.
"A company in Boston does not know what Chattanooga needs," Favors said.
Karitsa Mosley Jones said she has heard similar concerns.
"We are not signing our schools over to a private company," she said. "If we don't want to give them away to the state of Tennessee, why would we want to give them to a private institute."
The state has given the district two options — a state-run Achievement School District (ASD) or a shared governance with a proposed partnership district — for intervention in the five priority schools that have shown a pattern of low performance: Brainerd High, Dalewood Middle, Orchard Knob Elementary, Orchard Knob Middle and Woodmore Elementary.
Each of the district's priority schools, with the exception of Brainerd High, were put on notice in 2002, and in 2012 they were placed on the state's priority, or iZone, schools list. All five of the district's iZone schools have failed to move off the list, with little to no improvement despite being given more than $11 million in grants over the past four years.
Each year, the state measures schools' academic improvement on a scale from one to five, and Interim Superintendent Kirk Kelly said if the iZone schools don't score a four or five, the state will likely intervene.
In November 2016, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, reported four of the five iZone schools scored a one, the lowest possible score in 2015. Woodmore Elementary scored a three for "expected growth," according to state data.
Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at email@example.com or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.