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Members of the Bible in the Schools presented Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Bryan Johnson with a check of $1.7 million as reimbursement for the 2019-2020 Bible History elective program. / (Photo courtesy of Bible in the Schools)

The Bible in the Schools organization has given $1.7 million to Hamilton County Schools as reimbursement for the 2019-2020 Bible history elective program, according to a news release.

Bible history classes are allowed in the county's public middle and high schools per a 1980 federal court ruling, which allows the teaching of for-credit Bible History electives, saying they "are constitutionally permissible," according to a news release from the organization.

"The Hamilton County Bible history curricular framework is court approved and aligns with the Tennessee Department of Education's state academic standards," the release states.

Superintendent Bryan Johnson said through the release that the history program, available for students as an elective in grades 6-12, "equips students to recognize the many cultural connections between an ancient text and our modern world."

"The Hamilton County Schools leadership team is grateful for its strong community partnership with Bible in the Schools, especially for the continued financial support from the greater Chattanooga community, whose generosity has funded the program and enriched the lives of thousands of students."

More than 4,500 students completed a Bible History elective course during the 2019-20 school year, officials said.

Of the 20,000 students in the county who had access to Bible history, 24% took and completed a course, the group said.

This upcoming school year, Bible history courses will be offered in 28 schools and taught by 26 credentialed teachers.

The organization's board chairman, Tom Glenn, said that for 99 years, "Bible in the Schools has provided public school students with the free gift of Bible history elective courses at no cost to taxpayers."

The group's president, Cathy Scott, said, "This community gift for Bible history elective courses, given through Bible in the Schools, represents a generous community that understands the enduring value that studying the Bible can have in the lives of students in our public schools. We believe Bible history is a critical component to a well-rounded education. It awakens students to the rich, cultural footprint the Bible has left in global history while offering the hope, values and life lessons relevant to the tough issues youth face today."

For more information on the program, visit bibleintheschools.com.

Staff writer Monique Brand can be reached at mbrand@timesfreepress.com.

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