published Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Rick Smith plans layoffs, says he’ll help all schools

Rick Smith, the Hamilton County Board of Education's newly appointed superintendent, speaks about his goals and agenda Friday at the school system's  central office.
Rick Smith, the Hamilton County Board of Education's newly appointed superintendent, speaks about his goals and agenda Friday at the school system's central office.
Photo by Dan Henry.
  • Rick Smith talks about budget cuts
    Watch as newly appointed Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith outlines some cuts he will propose to the school board to make up the $17.8 million budget shortfall.
Follow us on Twitter for the latest breaking news
WHAT’S NEXT
  • What: School board meeting to discuss Superintendent Rick Smith’s proposed budget
  • When: 5 p.m. Thursday
  • Where: Hamilton County Board of Education’s central office, 3074 Hickory Valley Road, Chattanooga

The dust hasn’t even cleared from a roiling controversy over his hiring, and new Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith already is gearing up to cut as many as 30 jobs to ease a $17.8 million deficit.

Among those would be about 10 central office jobs, two assistant principal positions and four teacher trainers in urban schools. He also proposes eliminating benefits for contracted bus drivers and cutting half the capital expense budget.

Smith, who was hired Thursday in a 5-3 vote by the school board, has met with board members about the plan and expects pushback on some of his proposed cuts.

But school board Chairman Mike Evatt said drastic changes are needed.

“I am not real happy with some of the school-based cuts we are going to make,” Evatt said. “I don’t want to see anyone cut if possible, but sometimes you have to.”

Smith outlined his immediate plans a day after he was appointed amid some hard feelings over former Superintendent Jim Scales’ sudden departure and frustration over a majority school board decision not to search for an outside candidate.

“I’m glad last night has come and gone,” Smith said Friday, referring to the disagreement over his hiring and emotions that came to a head the evening before. “Now I want to work with all the school board members, whether they voted for me or not.”

Smith emphasized that the needs of urban schools will be met and that he won’t favor some schools over others.

“What I hope can happen is that some of the things that have been so emotional can settle down,” Smith said. “I try to stay out of the politics. It’s directed at a different issue and different person and not me.”

The focus now, he said, should be on the tough decisions about what can stay and what has to go in the coming school year while maintaining a balanced budget. The school system, with a total budget of more than $350 million, originally projected a $14.4 million deficit, but that number jumped after the state approved across-the-board teacher pay increases of 1.6 percent, Smith said.

Deeper employee cuts can be avoided because of an agreement signed this year with the Hamilton County Education Association that raised individual health care premiums from $25 to $100, amounting to a total savings of $4.8 million.

Smith said the system originally planned to hire 55 new teachers to accommodate an anticipated 500 more students, but that has been reduced to 45 teachers.

Cuts and politics

During his few weeks as interim superintendent, while dealing with how the system would address its fourth straight year of budget cuts, Smith was also in the middle of a heated debate over how the school board should search for a new superintendent.

In May, the school board voted 6-3 to buy out Scales, who had been in the job for five years. The buyout will cost the county $285,000 to $300,000.

Not long after Scales was voted out, Smith was voted in as interim superintendent. Smith’s own job as deputy superintendent under Scales had been on the chopping block in Scales’ proposed budget for next year.

A majority of the school board — Rhonda Thurman, Evatt, David Testerman, Everett Fairchild and Joe Galloway — voted to change the board’s longstanding minimum qualifications and hiring policy to fast-track Smith for the permanent position.

They said the system needed a local insider who could navigate county politics and knew area educators. Despite requests from some community members and the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, board members decided against conducting a national or statewide search. Smith, who has worked in local schools more than 25 years, was their man, they said.

But a smaller group on the board said the move was wrong, short-sighted and smacked of favoritism. On Thursday, board members Linda Mosley, George Ricks and Jeffrey Wilson voted against Smith’s four-year contract, which comes with a $163,500 annual salary. Scales made more than $202,000 a year.

“This has become a debacle,” Wilson said Thursday night at the school board meeting. “This is not done right. It doesn’t look right.”

Now, Smith and Evatt said they need to work on mending fences and convincing those opposed to Smith’s hiring that he will put the education of urban and suburban students as the top priority.

District 1 board member Thurman sparked a fiery debate last Sunday when she said in a front-page story in the Chattanooga Times Free Press that she thought suburban schools were being slighted because so much support had been pumped into urban schools with little to show for it.

Challenges at urban schools do require additional support and their needs will be met, Smith said. He also said that relationships with the Public Education Foundation and the Benwood Foundation, which funneled considerable financial support to inner-city and other struggling schools, will continue to be fostered under his watch.

Magnet schools, a favorite target of Thurman’s, also will continue to thrive, he said.

“I have always embraced every part of our community,” he said. “I’ll come to work every day and prove that.”

Still, upcoming decisions about whom to keep and who to let go could aggravate anger over Smith’s appointment. Principal posts at Daisy Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary and Lookout Valley Middle and Red Bank Middle need to be filled, and Smith said he will appoint principals differently than Scales did.

Four years ago, Scales began naming principals from a group of candidates who were vetted by committees consisting of community members, teachers and school board representatives. Smith said he won’t use those committees and instead will rely on feedback from administrators to make his decision.

On Thursday, before he was appointed superintendent, Smith named an assistant superintendent, Lookout Valley Middle/High Principal Lee McDade. He also chose a middle school director, high school director and human resources director for the entire school system.

“It’s a different time,” Smith said. “I’ve been here the better part of three decades. The people I’ve appointed, I’ve worked with.”

Contact Joan Garrett at jgarrett@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6601.

about Joan Garrett McClane...

Joan Garrett McClane has been a staff writer for the Times Free Press since August 2007. Before becoming a general assignment writer for the paper, she wrote about business, higher education and the court systems. She grew up the oldest of five sisters near Birmingham, Ala., and graduated with a master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama. Before landing her first full-time job as a reporter at the Times Free Press, ...

45
Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
lesliebogan said...

But as the cost of school continues to rise, it becomes increasingly riskier for young people to take on the debt without the promise of a decent job, alternative to this is the online "High Speed Universities" where you cake online courses.

July 10, 2011 at 4:04 a.m.
chet123 said...

DID HE SAY CUTS...LOL LOL LOL LOL ..WHATS HE GOING TO DO...ASK HIS GIRL FRIEND RHONDA THURMAN WHERE CUTS SHOULD BE MADE???? THIS IS WHY HAMILTON COUNTY NEEDED SOMEONE NEUTRAL....RICK SMITH IS TOTAL INDEBTED TO RHONDA THURMAN..LOOK OUT INNER CITY...ITS COMING YOUR WAY..LOOK OUT CSAS...THERE'S TOO MUCH ENVY IN CHATTANOOGA....AND RICK SMITH IS NOT HIS OWN MAN..HAD TO BE AFFIRMITIVE ACTION INTO THE POSITION(CORRECTION..EVEN AFFIRMITIVE ACTION REQUIRE YOU TO BE QUALIFIED).

July 10, 2011 at 8:43 a.m.
brokentoe said...

..HAD TO BE AFFIRMITIVE ACTION INTO THE POSITION(CORRECTION..EVEN AFFIRMITIVE ACTION REQUIRE YOU TO BE QUALIFIED).

chet it's that "southern" style form of Affirmative Action that existed for centuries long before a name and label was required. It's they're BIRTH RIGHT! LOL

July 10, 2011 at 9:26 a.m.

wildman, didn't know Dr. Scales had smith on his hit list...my my. What a tangled web the school "board" is weaving in our lovely scenic city. And smith has the nerve to make believe he feels BAD...give me a break please. Yet another slap in the face to our students. This messed up board does not have a CLUE.

On another note, 3 caucasian Chattanooga young male adults were ARRESTED for making racial slurs yesterday (at 3 AM in the morning no less) to African American individuals. The female who "blow" dries hair has been asked to step down (from her position on the school board) for her racial remarks, but she continues to go on and on. My question is what's not right in this picture? When do we as voters, parents of students and citizens of Hamilton County decide to put an end to this behind the scenes tomfoolery from the school "board?"

July 10, 2011 at 10:31 a.m.
fedup350 said...

Wildman. I think you are really chet posting under an alias. Brokentoe I think you are joe ann favors. Where do u get those hats? H l thinker what about the 15 black people krlled by black. People this year?

July 10, 2011 at 10:54 a.m.
brokentoe said...

fedup350, I've never worn hats. Comparing me to Ms. Favors is like comparing vanilla ice cream to chocolate. LOL!!

HLT--those three white boys must have been inspired by the likes of Thurman. Why they are only being charged with a count of Civil Rights Violation deserves investigating itself(friends trying to help friends?). I see at least three, four and more crimes they committed. One the destruction of Federal Property. So when will the federal investigators come in? Another, making terroristic threats. So where is Homeland Security?

July 10, 2011 at 11:02 a.m.
timbo said...

Useless complaining.....it's over....get used to it and save your typing fingers

July 10, 2011 at 11:09 a.m.
fedup350 said...

Wow u jump with glee about three white boys getting arrested but don't care about 15 blacks getting killed by black

July 10, 2011 at 11:11 a.m.
brokentoe said...

Wow! you jump with glee about 15 blackks killing blacks but don't care about the white father who recently killed his three sons and a brother. Or the retired white cop now charged with two prior murders and rapes of 2 women, one over 70 years of age, only after he was recently charged with brutally raping a third and she was able to get away and tell. His DNA linked him to the other two. All the perps and victims mentioned are white. Are you saying white people don't kill white people? tsk! tsk!

July 10, 2011 at 1:41 p.m.
mountainlaurel said...

TFP notes: "Thurman, Evatt, David Testerman, Everett Fairchild and Joe Galloway — voted to change the board’s longstanding minimum qualifications and hiring policy to fast-track Smith . . . They said the system needed a local insider who could navigate county politics and knew area educators. . . Before he was appointed superintendent, Smith named an assistant superintendent. . . a middle school director, high school director and human resources director. . . “It’s a different time,” Smith said. . . The people I’ve appointed, I’ve worked with.”

To date, I can’t say I’m very impressed with the new Schools Superintendent. Like Thurman and her collegues, Smith continues to make general references to the benefits of hiring people he knows on a personal basis, but fails to provide any specific details about the alleged benefits. Indeed, the politics in Hamilton County must really be bizarre if it is impossible for anyone outside Hamilton County to comprehend them.

I suppose Hamilton County will be able to save a bit of money should there ever be a need to advertise any future job openings within the school district. Clearly, costly advertisments listing the type of skills and experience needed for an open position will no longer be needed. In the future, a simple one line generic description of the criteria should suffice - the Schools Superintendent must know the applicant.

July 10, 2011 at 1:46 p.m.
Selah said...

Mountainlauurel...Go to www.hcde.org...you can no longer pull up job postings on the school website. I guess that Equal Opportunity is dead in Hamilton County(if we allow it)... This is truly a sad day...we have gone back atleast 40 years...in an instant WOW

July 10, 2011 at 2:21 p.m.
timbo said...

Selah, the other side always cries politics . We did when you were in charge . Things were the same before it was just the people you like doing the picking.

Where do you think the desicions were made before? In a more fancy back room at theFairyland Club by a bunch of "rich old boys" you agreed with. We won.....we are supposed to be in charge. Just like you guys did when you won elections. The difference is now the adults are in charge. Civics 101 You all are a bunch of hypocrites.

July 10, 2011 at 2:58 p.m.
chet123 said...

TIMBO,FEDUP....YOU WANT IT TO BE OVER....IT JUST STARTING....THIS ISSUE IS NOT GOING TO DISAPPEAR..NEXT MOVE WIL BE COURTS..THE DECENT PEOPLE IN HAMILTON COUNTY IS TALKING...PLUS A LOT OF PEOPLE JUST DISPISED RHONDA THURMAN ARROGANCE!!! RICK SMITH STATED IN SUNDAY PAPER THAT HE WAS NOT POLITICAL....LOL LOL WHAT A LIAR!

BET YOU THE CUTTING WILL START IN THE CITY AREA..THE SAD THING IS RHONDA THURMAN,THE GED PERSON WHO HAVE BECOME AN EXPERT IN HER OWN MIND ON THE SUBJECT OF EDUCATION..WHEN SHE WAS TOO STUPID TO GRADUATE FROM ANY 4YEAR COLLEGE...WHAT A SLAP IN THE FACE TO 4 YEARS DEGREE PEOPLE AND POST GRADUATES.......SHE MAKES CHATTANOOGA LOOK LIKE A LAUGHING STOCK LOL LOL LOL

July 10, 2011 at 2:58 p.m.
timbo said...

Chet123 You liberals are always posing as populists and the champion of the little guy in when one gets in a position of power you show your arrogance and elitism . I guess the regular people who don't heel like dogs aren't good enough for you . You only want want the elites in charge where you can kiss their ring. You've ,got some real self esteem issues . I feel sorry for you .

July 10, 2011 at 3:53 p.m.
fedup350 said...

brokentoe, I was refering to locally and I only broguht it up becaue right in the middle of the posts of comments on a story about the local school system you bring up, and with apparent school girl glee, about the "three white boys" who got arrested. I was merely wondering if you were concerned about the 15 black people who were brutally murdered by other black people, taken away from thier families, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters. But your unconcerned response was to go on a world wide search of white criminals and you twist my words, I wasnt jumping with glee about anything. So, what are your thoughts on the 15 black people in CHATTANOOGA that were murdered by black people, or the 40 plus black on black shootings in CHATTANOOGA in the past six months? Remember I only bring this up because you brought the "white boys up" on a totally unrelated story. TSK TSK

July 10, 2011 at 4 p.m.
fedup350 said...

and I still think that you are jo ann favors....

July 10, 2011 at 4:01 p.m.
fedup350 said...

Watch out Timbo, chet123 pulled a trick on us the other day:

From July 8 post:

chet123 said... THANK YOU TIMES-FREE-PRESS...BY ALLOWING ME TO EXPRESS MY SPEECH...YOU ARE TRULY A PROTECTOR OF THE 5TH AMENDMENT..THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU MUCH!

TIME TO EAT LUNCH!

and then a little later that same day:

chet123 said... THEY KNOW I'M HERER....THEY ARE IN HIDING....I TRICKED THEM EARLIER SAID I WAS GOING TO LUNCH AND THEY CAME OUT....BASHING ME...THE FUNNY PART IS THAT I WAS WATCHING THEM LOL LOL IT WAS SOME FUNNY......

he is s tricky one that chet123

July 10, 2011 at 4:09 p.m.
timbo said...

We are from Earth, Chet123 is from Uranus.

July 10, 2011 at 4:37 p.m.
brokentoe said...

fedup, first and foremost, let us get something straight. I AM NOT A GIRL! LOL. Second, I was jumping off your "glee" reference in your post. What's your problem? Short term memory loss or something?

Furthermore, After responding to your rhetoric, that particular section of my post was addressed to HLT=HighLevelThinker.

Wow! Isn't a wonder that an inner-city with a predominantely black and poor population that the crimes committed are equally higher for those poor blacks? Guess what? The same stands true for rural other cities that are predominantely white and poor. If you're shocked about crime in inner-city Chattanooga, you'd fall off the edge of the earth in shock over what takes place in rural white and other poor white areas in America and some middle-classed, upper-middle-classed an wealthy areas too.

You speak as if blacks are the only ones who commit crimes against one another. You're wrong. Whites are more likely to be victims of crimes committed by fellow whites. Asians Americans are likely to victimized by fellow Asian Americans. The same goes for Native American Indians and all other ethnic groups. You should get out more and view the world through a wider lense. People aren't driven by the fact they look alike and therefore wouldn't dare commit crimes against one another for that reason alone. Try taking a psychology 101 class. You'll learn something.

"and I still think you are jo anne favors." =

And that's why you'll never earn a living THINKING. LOL@U

July 10, 2011 at 5:57 p.m.
fedup350 said...

Brokentoe, you must be related to chet with that lol...lol,lol,lol,lol AND you are a criminal justice major and an expert in crime in all areas of the country both urban and rural, all from your keyboard, simply amazing! An expert in crime black and white and Asian, I am so impressed, Maybe now that they caught those terrible "white boys" that were shooting fireworks in the black neighborhood the crime in those same black neighborhoods will drop dramatically, thats it why didnt we think of this before? You simply showed your prejudice in a public forum and I called you on it and for your information I make my living with my hands, something you (Jo Ann Favors) wont appreciate since you (her) show such disdain for working people or is it just white working people you dislike?

July 10, 2011 at 6:16 p.m.
fedup350 said...

and brokentoe , if you want to have a private predjudice conversation trying emailing the intended recipient instead of puttig it on a public post and I apologize for calling you a girl.

July 10, 2011 at 6:32 p.m.
5v5 said...

Wildman,

timbo is a soddy moron that whose only high point in like is to chat here on TFP. Please ignore, he as well as others, such to the likings of rhonda who believe they have a voice of influence, but they will come to the same end.

July 10, 2011 at 7:02 p.m.
5v5 said...

Dr. Scales knew what was going on when the board changed this last election. The best thing he could of ever done to go ahead and get his money and go. Trying to move ricky was good a great move. Rhonda acted just as he knew the soddy minded hair dresser would. Secured his family future with a $300,000 advanced, so good for Dr. Scales he has got his living in hand...... He donesn't have to fix hair nor pickup trash from the back of a trash truck in Sale Creek to make a living for another day.

July 10, 2011 at 7:13 p.m.
brokentoe said...

fedup, if you're going to go as far as apologizing for calling me a girl, why not go even farther and apologize for saying I'm female altogether? Last time I checked, there was nothing NOTHING female about me. LOL!!

Don't fry your small brains either, you haven't "called" anyone out on anything. Why does it surprise bigots like you that one doesn't have to be black to understand Chattanooga has a serious racial problem primarily against blacks, and now even browns Muslims, gays and anyone else not light enough to conform or doesn't adhere to its bigoted fews and attacks against anyone different in thought, worship and lifestyle? Now, you're probably say I must be gay for supporting gays, or Muslim for speaking on behalf of Muslims. Thanks too for suggesting chet and I are related, although I don't know him/her from any you.

I think Ms. Favors starting out earning her livings with her hands to. Plus her brain. If I recall correctly I remember reading she was a Registered Nurse before retiring from that field for several years. Worked with her hands and a healer to boot! I'll be darn!! LOL LOL LOL LOL

July 10, 2011 at 7:46 p.m.
fedup350 said...

oooops brokentoe, I dont why, maybe but it is just your demeanor on here, I just assumed you were female, my bad. You were talking prejudice and couldnt couldnt defend it though. You started talking crime in general terms. I got news for you: 15 whites didnt murder 15 whites in Chattanooga in the last six months, 15 asians didnt murder 15 asians in Chattanooga in the last 6 months. What in the world are you talking about gays now for? I didnt say anything what so ever about gays. I didnt say anything about Muslims. if you sat you are male I take it back that I said you were Jo Ann Favors. Fair enough? Plus you calling me a bigoy after you were maing the racist "white boy" staement is laughable, it is a cvery common tactic though, it just doesnt work. You got caught being a bigot yourself.

July 10, 2011 at 9:15 p.m.
timbo said...

Wildman. That is easy. It is the whyole point. Smith just cutting back expenses is huge.

July 10, 2011 at 9:21 p.m.
Selah said...

Read today's editoral page in TFP...even "outsiders and foreigners" see the foolishness and racism here. It doesn't take a rocket scientist. It was WRONG WRONG WRONG...and they dared to say they were "white"...oh, no the sky is falling!!!

P.S. "LOL" means laugh out loud...it is commonly used among the young generation and is texting terminology for the computer savvy.

July 10, 2011 at 11:33 p.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

advertisement
advertisement

Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.