Hamilton County, school district form facilities working group to tackle $1 billion in needed repairs

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp looks back at his sister as he speaks during the swearing-in ceremony for Hamilton County Officials on Sept. 1 at the Chattanooga Convention Center.

Hamilton County Schools' facilities require nearly $1 billion in repairs -- and Mayor Weston Wamp and Superintendent Justin Robertson are teaming up to start addressing the problem.

Officials announced Tuesday the members of a newly formed working group on county schools' facilities that will evaluate urgent and future building needs across the school district, according to a news release.

"Plans for the future of our school facilities should be developed with a focus on excellence and efficiency, paving the way for our students to thrive in college prep and career prep pathways," Wamp said in the news release. "This working group will establish a roadmap for Hamilton County to go from a laggard to a leader in the region in the quality of our public school facilities."

Members of the working group are:

-- Weston Wamp, Hamilton County mayor.

-- Justin Robertson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools.

-- Tiffanie Robinson, school board chairwoman, local entrepreneur and founder of Second Story Real Estate Management.

-- Lee Helton, Hamilton County commissioner, owner of Lee Helton Construction.

-- Kenny Smith, former school board chairman, retired director of the Chattanooga Electrical Apprenticeship.

-- Kyle Bryant, CPA, managing partner of accounting firm Market Street Partners.

-- Jay Price, Chattanooga State men's basketball coach, Brainerd High School alumnus.

Tucker McClendon, deputy county mayor for education and workforce development, and Robert Sharpe, director of operations for Hamilton County Schools, will serve as staff to the working group.

"I am looking forward to working with Mayor Wamp and others as we chart a path together to alleviate the decades-long school facilities crisis facing Hamilton County," Robertson said in the news release. "The situation we are facing did not come about overnight, and it will take a dedicated effort to move us forward. Working together is the most logical way to tackle this issue for the benefit of students across the county who deserve safe, modern facilities capable of fully supporting their educational journey."

The group will use a 2018 facilities study by MGT Consulting Group to guide their decisions. The study recommended a three-phase, 10-year plan for addressing the district's facilities needs at a cost of $891 million.

"We will begin meeting on a regular basis and look forward to bringing an innovative and financially feasible plan forward for the citizens to review and provide input," Wamp said in the news release. "School facilities are important to every member of the County Commission, and I look forward to their input and support of the roadmap that comes out of the working group."

Contact Carmen Nesbitt at cnesbitt@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @carmen_nesbitt.