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Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Bryan Johnson gives a "State of Our Schools" address to the Hamilton County Council of PTAs. (Staff photo by Doug Strickland)

The headline was clear: "The Hamilton County Commission votes unanimously to accept the school board's facilities plan."

Several commissioners spoke of transparency during the commission meeting and afterward on Wednesday.

Transparency, in a lot of ways, is a governmental buzzword akin to charity.

No one is against more transparency, just like no one is against giving more to charity.

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Jay Greeson
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But whether folks actually practice what they preach — or give what they pledge — is hard to know.

Yes, transparency is always the proper path. It is needed and too often avoided, even by a lot of officials who call the loudest for it.

In fact, for all the handwringing and drum-beating about fake news, the true cure-all is transparency, and here's betting this experience has left a lasting mark that new Superintendent Bryan Johnson will remember and from which he will learn.

In some ways, the process of the facilities plan approval has been more deeply dissected than the achievement of the plan.

This is unequivocally Johnson's first big win as the new superintendent. It's also important to note that the newly found money and the much- needed capital investment likely would not have been found if Johnson or someone of his talent had not been found.

Yes, some people think buildings and athletic facilities are the easiest issues for a school board and county commission to tackle.

Finding the happy place and proper direction in public education is a tall task for all involved. There are hard and real-world issues, and those issues surround people's kids, which makes the emotional investment greater from all angles

Sure, if more of our leaders remembered the great Truman quote about anything being possible as long we do not care who gets the credit, those hurdles would be more easily handled.

The district's capital needs — and they were important needs in terms of commitment and optics — were addressed successfully (and mostly in private) by Mayor Jim Coppinger, Johnson and the school board.

Still, the next steps — both in the classroom and out at the Bonny Oaks headquarters— will be the most significant test for Johnson.

A few key positions being advertised on the county school system website for some key additions to Johnson's leadership team will be the next clue in his plan to turn around public education.

His next moves in the area of human capital — how to recruit and retain the best educators for all Hamilton County public school students — will be by far the most transformative.

Here's hoping those moves will be as positive as the final outcome of the $125 million capital investment in our schools.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com and 423-757-6343.

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