Educators seeking District 7 school board seat in Hamilton County

Educators seeking District 7 school board seat in Hamilton County

July 17th, 2012 by Kevin Hardy in News

Ralph Miller

Ralph Miller

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Donna Horn

Donna Horn

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

POLL: Who do you support for District 7?


Voters may cast ballots through July 28 at the following locations in Hamilton County:

• Brainerd Recreation Center, 1010 N. Moore Road; and Eastwood Church, 4300 Ooltewah-Ringgold Road; Northgate Mall, entrance at former Shanes Rib Shack/Pizza Hut next to Belk; Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

• Hamilton County Election Commission, 700 River Terminal Road, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.

Source: Hamilton County Election Commission

It's a battle between two educators for the District 7 seat on the Hamilton County Board of Education.

Retired classroom teacher Donna Horn is going up against retired band director and Principal Ralph Miller at the ballot box on Aug. 2. Current board member Linda Mosley is not running for re-election.

Horn said her experience in the classroom will give the board a new perspective that's lacking and ensure female representation on the board. She just retired after teaching 20 years in Hamilton County, including her last position in which she spent more than a decade teaching kindergarten at Wolftever Creek Elementary.

"They need a teacher on that board," she said. "They need people who know what it's like to be in that environment seven, 10, 12 hours a day."

But Miller said his experience is equally important and has prepared him to get to work on the board immediately. He has worked in Georgia and Tennessee public schools and just retired after 10 years at Boyd-Buchanan School.

"You have to have a cross section of people on the board, of all walks of life. But you have to have some people that know what's going on, too," he said. "I'm not going to need four years of training only to find out I don't like the job."

Both Horn and Miller took issue with a recent rezoning of schools in District 7, which includes East Hamilton County. The school board voted in April on a controversial package that moved hundreds of students from East Brainerd and East Hamilton schools to Ooltewah-area schools. Administrators said the rezoning was unavoidable as schools became more overcrowded, and Ooltewah schools had ample capacity.

Miller said Mosley should have questioned the process more and assured constituents she was working for them.

But he said the failure to build a planned middle school for the area shows a lack of oversight that could have avoided the need for rezoning. Last spring, school officials said East Hamilton Middle/High was one of the most crowded schools in need of relief.

"If they had built that building, they wouldn't have had that problem," he said.

Horn said she wouldn't have voted for the rezoning because there were too many questions about the school district's figures and methods.

"I probably would have said 'no' to the rezoning, that we had to find another option," she said.

Miller said he sees problems with the selection of previous school superintendents through national search firms and the practice of laying off staff members only to rehire many.

"That's what happens sometimes when people don't understand the educational system," he said.

Horn said she would like to see more grant writing done in the school system and said she would advocate for more physical education, especially in elementary grades. She said she'll spend a lot of time in the community and in schools representing their needs.

"I don't work. I have that flexibility," she said. "I want to be somebody making a difference on that board."

Contact staff writer Kevin Hardy at 423-757-6249 or