Hamilton County state lawmakers holding education 'mini summit' on local problems

Sen. Bo Watson, Tennessee-R, sponsored failed legislation that would have allowed those forcefully annexed into city limits since 1998 to de-annex themselves. He has vowed to sponsor the bill again in 2017.

Tennessee legislators from Hamilton County plan to sit down with local education officials and the state Education Commissioner Candice McQueen on Tuesday to discuss the county's public schools.

Lawmakers announced the meeting Wednesday, and state Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, said the meeting is intended as a "call to action."

Hamilton County's legislative delegation says despite a significant investment of public and private money and resources funneled into Hamilton County Schools, the district is producing lower-than-expected test results and have 30 percent of teachers rated least effective, by state measures.

"We are bringing together all the key stakeholders in Hamilton County for a serious discussion about where we are going and how we get there," Watson said in a written statement.

The meeting will take place the Volkswagen Conference Center at Enterprise South on Tuesday from 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. and is open for the public to observe, but not participate.

Hamilton County Schools' interim superintendent, Kirk Kelly, said he is glad everyone will be meeting and developing plans for the future together.

"It's good that the local elected officials and state officials are coming to Hamilton County to talk about education," he said.

Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, chairman of the Senate K-12 Education Subcommittee, said the meeting's participants "have been carefully selected because of the role they play in the Hamilton County public education system.

"This isn't just another policy discussion," Gardenhire said. "This is about getting things done."

Rep. Patsy Hazelwood, R-Signal Mountain, said teacher effectiveness "is a key ingredient to student success. We hope to better understand why almost one third of our teachers have been rated as ineffective and what we can do to be helpful."