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Staff File Photo by Matt Hamilton / The Hamilton County School Board meets in 2021 at the Hamilton County Department of Education.

What would you like to ask the Hamilton County Board of Education candidates in your district?

The jobs of school board members, after all, aren't for the faint of heart. The board oversees the policies and procedures of the county's 79 schools and for its more than 44,000 students. The decisions the nine and soon-to-be 11 members make can have important and long-lasting consequences.

As such, the Times Free Press and Local 3 News are teaming to offer online debates among the school board candidates in six districts over the next two weeks. They can be accessed through timesfreepress.com, Local3news.com or the Facebook page of Local 3 News.

In the meantime, here is one question we'd like to have answered by each candidate:

> July 12, 7 p.m., District 8, Republican Larry Grohn vs. Democrat Katie Perkins (open seat)

> Grohn: Does the arrest warrant recently taken out against you for stealing campaign signs disqualify you for serving on the school board, and, if not, why not?

> Perkins: In your interview with the Times Free Press editorial board before your primary election, your answers on important issues were extremely vague. How have you educated yourself on board matters since then?

> July 13, 7 p.m., District 10, Republican Faye Robinson vs. Democrat Jeff Crim vs. independent Christine Essex (open seat)

> Robinson: As you have listed on your campaign website, we believe students need life skills such as managing money, time management, getting organized and communicating competently, but what basic classes should be dropped for students to receive these life skills classes?

> Crim: On your website, you indicate "schools need to utilize materials that reflect" a diversity in gender and sexual orientation. What is the youngest age you believe should be exposed to materials that reflect nontraditional gender and sexual issues?

> Essex: You have a voiced a need for changes in the bullying policies in Hamilton County schools. How, specifically, would you change those policies?

> July 14, 7 p.m., District 11, Republican Virginia Anne Manson vs. Democrat Jill Black vs. independent Steve McKinney (open seat)

> Manson: Your strategy of "parents know best" indicates one predictor of student achievement is the extent to which a student's family is able to create a home environment that encourages learning. Since many homes in your district don't have that kind of environment, what can you do as a board member to foster that?

> Black: Your website suggests you want to "meet our students where there are and give them the tools they need to be successful?" Why is our school district not doing that now, what is keeping it from doing it and how would you change it?

> McKinney: When you say on your campaign website you want to "keep out political agendas," what specifically do you mean?

> July 19, 7 p.m., District 3, Republican Joe Smith (incumbent) vs. Democrat Jenn Piroth

> Smith: You have said one of your top priorities is "changing the culture of behavior in the classrooms" and also that it is not the school board's job to fix "the lack of appropriate parenting." So what steps will you take?

> Piroth: You have proposed that no Hamilton County school should begin before 8:30 a.m. How will you make this work with the schedule of buses that must be staggered to get all children to school on time?

> July 20, 7 p.m., District 5, Republican Charles Paty vs. Democrat Karitsa Mosley Jones (incumbent)

> Paty: You have said "we must do a better job of stewardship of taxpayers' funds." In what ways, specifically, do you believe the school district has not been a good steward of taxpayer funds?

> Jones: With a six-figure salary in the administration of Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly in a job that works with the Hamilton County schools, do you feel you can truly be an independent representative for your constituents? Please explain.

> July 21, 7 p.m., District 6, Republican Jon Baker vs. Democrat Ben Conner (open seat)

> Baker: You have said all Hamilton County classes should have 15 students. Where would the money come from to hire the additional teachers to staff the additional classes that would come from having such small classes?

> Conner: On your website, you say "continuing to use ineffective and outdated methods is no longer an option." Specifically, which ineffective and outdated methods are being used by the district and what would you replace them with?

Many parents say they are interested in what is happening in their local schools and in what is being taught to their children. But when it comes to being involved, they demur.

The upcoming online debates not only will allow parents to hear what their school board members want to do, it will allow them to hear it from the comfort of their recliner. Take the time to hear about our schools, and invest in our community.

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