Red Bank is continuing to look into the possibility of forming a municipal school district. City commissioners plan to consider at their Feb. 7 meeting a resolution to establish an exploratory committee to research the feasibility of breaking away from Hamilton County Schools.
At their Dec. 20 work session, commissioners discussed forming a five-person committee that would research the possibility and report back to the commission. They have agreed that each commissioner will name one person to the committee, but have not yet decided whether committee members will be required to live or own property in the city, or whether people who are involved in the schools or have expert knowledge on the subject, but who live outside of the city, may be included. They plan to make that determination at their work session Tuesday, Feb. 7 at noon, said City Recorder Ruthie Rohen.
Commissioners will vote on the resolution at their meeting that night at 7 p.m., and may name their appointees then, she said.
Schools within the city's limits are Red Bank Middle and High schools, Alpine Crest Elementary and the Dawn School. Red Bank Elementary is just outside the border, though many Red Bank residents are zoned for the school along with Chattanooga residents.
Red Bank commissioners' decision to form the committee follows a similar decision by the town of Signal Mountain, which was scheduled to appoint its own committee Jan. 27. The Signal Mountain Town Council, however, chose to accept applications from any interested community members to form its seven-person committee, tasked with studying the feasibility of the town operating and funding its own district.
Red Bank Mayor John Roberts said he hopes the two cities can share their committees' findings.
If Red Bank breaks away from Hamilton County, the city will receive per-pupil allocations from the state and county, but Hamilton County Schools may choose to sell or repurpose the school buildings, all of which are owned by the Hamilton County Department of Education. State law requires that any teachers rehired by the new districts be paid at least as much as they were in Hamilton County Schools.
If Red Bank commissioners decide to move forward with creating a city school district, the issue will likely be put to a vote by citywide referendum. If citizens are in favor, the city would need to create a budget, hire a superintendent and form a school board to oversee the district.
The city of Soddy-Daisy, which has seven schools within its bounds, has not considered breaking away from Hamilton County Schools and has no plans to look into the possibility, said City Manager Janice Cagle.