Hamilton County school board discusses school safety, retirement incentives, Opportunity Zone

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond speaks to the Hamilton County School Board on Thursday night, March 22, 2018, about how he plans to help keep our schools safe.

Both of tonight's agendas for the Hamilton County Department of Education board meetings - a 4 p.m. work session and the 5:30 p.m. regularly scheduled meeting are packed.

Things to watch for tonight:

» Discussions on the Opportunity Zone's progress, including a request for 20 new positions - nine full-time and 11 half-time - to be paid for by grant funds from the district's Partnership Network with the state

» An update on the retirement incentives proposed by Superintendent Bryan Johnson last month, after reportedly 178 employees opted to retire by the March 15 deadline

» A presentation by Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond on how to improve school safety, including the possibilities of additional funding for school resource officers and arming teachers.

» A discussion on equity, including a proposal for an equity task force by the district's chief equity officer, Marsha Drake, and a presentation from the local chapter of the NAACP.

» Approval of more than $7.1 million in contracts for architects working on multiple capital projects, including renovations and new additions to Harrison Elementary, East Hamilton Middle, Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts, Howard High, Snow Hill Elementary and Tyner Middle and High schools.

» Board approval and appropriation of nearly a half million dollars for the new Raptor visitor management system the district is rolling out in all schools by April and the installation of a controlled door management system, to enhance school safety.

» Yearly tenure recommendations for 186 teachers.

» The first reading of an updated tobacco policy that would officially prohibit tobacco use on all school properties.

» And an appearance by student representatives of Students Leading Change, the local youth movement that helped plan student walkouts last week and Saturday's March for Our Lives event to promote gun control and safer schools.

Follow along on Twitter with staff writer Meghan Mangrum @memangrum for updates.