Thursday, as members of the Hamilton County Board of Education were eyeing how to spend their budgetary windfall, someone asked if I was going to write about what they believed to be the glorious move by the school board to allocate $2.5 million to Sale Creek High School for a football stadium.

Well, from the files of "be careful what you wish for" comes the start of this morning's chat.

First, let's acknowledge that the school district policy of building schools but leaving tangential but essential parts — fields, athletic and club amenities, et al. — to the boosters, parents and school boards is nonsensical.

If you are going to build a school, then build what the school needs. To properly serve students, some of those needs are outside a classroom.

So for that, congrats, Sale Creek. I know you have wanted this for a long time and your diligent and hard-working school board representative, Rhonda Thurman, has worked tirelessly for it.

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Jay Greeson

But the timing of this decision is at best curious and, at worst, boneheaded.

We are staring at a major facilities overhaul in the Hamilton County school system in the next 12 months. It will include hundreds of millions of dollars.

If we are less than a school year away from needing to have conversations about which schools are going to be closed or consolidated, then ancillary expenditures like a football field at any of the schools should be stalled.

Yes, Sale Creek was not on the list of possible closures in recent surveys, but every school should be a talking point — especially at a middle/high school with fewer than 600 students.


Saturday star

We wrote earlier this week about the budgetary windfall that allowed the school system to build a stadium at Sale Creek and increase its one-time bonuses to teachers, among other things.

It dawned on me after I re-read my column — yes, Pat, I can read — that I should have at least tipped the visor to Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Martin, who cast the final vote in the 5-4 tally against the tax increase that would have meant the school system getting Bill Gates-type money.

I know he took some heat for his decision. I know he got some atta-boy's, too.

But considering what we know now and what we know is coming on the horizon, well, here's hoping that Martin gets an extra buttered biscuit this morning.

He earned it.


Hospital help-wanted

OK, big-boy jobs like the pooh-bah at Erlanger are not exactly found in the classifieds of the TFP. Could you imagine?

"Wanted: Hospital CEO who is ready to answer the phone whenever it rings, has an answer for every unanswerable question, must be good in front of crowds, be able to raise hundreds of millions for various causes, type 120 words a minute, proficient at Excel, and willing to speak to jackwagon media folks like Greeson."

Now the compensation is sweet, no doubt; a million per year in Chattanooga is big time.

Well, we have a new Erlanger boss. Dr. William Jackson was given a one-year deal.

First, we should all wish Dr. Jackson the best.

Second, while the end was bitter for former CEO Kevin Spiegel, his accomplishments — especially in terms of business and fundraising — in his roughly seven years leading Erlanger were as high as the recent lows were low.

But as the board admittedly wanted to move quickly, was Dr. Jackson part of the solution or was he part of the problem?

According to the Erlanger website, Dr. Jackson's previous role before being promoted included support of the medical staff, overseeing hospital quality, safety, physician services and inpatient and outpatient care, among other things.

The recent letter that was the beginning of the end for Spiegel raised serious concerns among some members of the medical staff about patient care, safety and quality. But as is often said in hospital circles, CEOs who lose the support of medical staff just don't last long.

I pray the board of trustees did its due diligence in vetting Jackson for the top job, and I pray Erlanger finds better days quickly. I hope Jackson is a big part of that turnaround — for the patients, the great Erlanger staff and our community as a whole.

May his first step be re-establishing trust among executive leadership, the medical staff, nurses and all patient care staff who make Erlanger the important community asset it has been and can continue to be.

Contact Jay Greeson at