Tonight during the Signal Mountain Town Council's regular monthly meeting, the council is holding a public forum to address citizens' questions and comments about Signal Mountain's possible breakaway from Hamilton County Schools.
Last week, the Town Council, which has been investigating the idea to create Signal's own school district, held a public forum in which representatives from municipalities school districts in Shelby County shared their districts' experiences and weighed in on Signal's situation.
Superintendents came from Germantown Municipal School District and Arlington Community Schools in West Tennessee near Memphis, which were among six municipalities in Shelby County started their own districts after the Memphis school district merged with Shelby County Schools in one of the largest school mergers in the nation's history in 2013.
Since February, a seven-member committee has been exploring whether or not Signal Mountain can breakaway from Hamilton County Schools, creating creating a separate district. Those in favor argue the move would give Signal Mountain residents more autonomy and localized control over the schools.
In October, the committee released its final report, after Signal Mountain developed a proposed budget and asked Hamilton County Schools to review it. SSVC's report, with all but one committee members in agreement, ultimately concluded that a separate school district would be viable so long as the town was able to overcome three obstacles - control of the three school buildings, inclusion of Walden and other nearby unincorporated Hamilton County populations and how the Signal Mountain itself would be required to contribute to the school district.
The Council, which has faced some criticism of a lack of transparency and public input since the process started to move ahead a year, discussed next steps and proposed amendments to the original proposed budget for the potential school district at it's last work session on Dec. 1.
Tonight's public forum is the first time the Town Council has held a public forum to hear from citizens' on the possibility of a breakaway during a Town Council meeting.
Contact Meghan Mangrum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.