Chattanooga 2.0 was born out of a recognition that strong educational outcomes, birth through career, are essential to our community’s economic growth and progress and require community-wide commitment and action. We believe that strong leadership, at all levels of the educational system, is necessary to our success as a community.  
 

We invite you to read the following responses to our school board candidate questionnaire to make an informed choice when you head to the polls starting July 12, 2024 for early voting. 

For important 2024 election dates, locations, and more, visit our VOTE page. 

WHAT IS THE SCHOOL BOARD?

The Hamilton County Schools (Hamilton County Department of Education) school board is a small group of individuals who play an important, high-level role in deciding how schools are run. School board members are elected by the community to make and to oversee critical decisions about the school district. Though the TN Department of Education is the primary responsible agent for overseeing education in Tennessee, local school boards are charged with overseeing the governance of education within each district or school community. School boards work with the individual needs of their district, following guidelines and laws set forth by the federal and state governments, the State Department of Education, and the State Board of Education.

Duties of the school board include:

 

 

  • Adopt goals; set priorities; monitor success
  • Adopt policies
  • Hire and evaluate the superintendent
  • Adopt a budget
  • Advocate for public education
  • Communication with the community

2024 Hamilton county school board candidate questionnaire RESPONSES

DISTRICT 1 CANDIDATES

Headshot of Steve Slater
Steve Slater (R)
Tammy Barnes Headshot
Tammy Barnes (D)

1) How has education played a role in your life?

A: Education started with me long before I entered school. My mother and father, along with two older brothers, had me way ahead before starting first grade. Teachers and coaches have made a huge influence in my life. Certainly from Buck Johnson and Boodie Fox at SD Jr High and through high school with Jim Harrison and Burr Elliott, these men helped shape my whole future. I also had the opportunity to play baseball for Ron Bishop at Tennessee Temple University. I can only strive to be half the man, the person, and Christian that Ron Bishop was.

2) What do you want voters to know about you?

A: Voters need to know I am conservative. They also need to know that I had 34 years of running a successful insurance business, dealing with budget, personnel, and financial issues of my business. I feel my business experience will be a vital part of serving District One on the school board. In addition, I have patience and good common sense.

3) What do you view as the most pressing issue students today face?

A: There is more than one pressing issue for students today. Student safety, bullying (this much be dealt with immediately), discipline in the classroom, and having good state of the art facilities are the main issues. 

4) What are the top 3 priorities you aim to address if elected to the school board?

A:

  1. Improve facilities, both the buildings and athletic facilities. 
  2. The budget: we must analyze our return on investment to determine if some of these budget items should be reduced or cut entirely.
  3. Finally, my priority is to educate our students. That is the primary reason for our schools in the first place. My pledge is to work for the taxpayers and constituents that elect me, no one else.

Campaign Page: http://www.tammybarnesd1.com/ 

1) How has education played a role in your life?

A: Education has been instrumental in shaping me to be the person I am today. I am a proud graduate of the public school system and attended community college. My career path was directly influenced by my educational opportunities. My high school had a robust vocational program that offered classes in health occupations. Being introduced to medical technology at an early age inspired me to continue my education by joining the military. The education I received throughout my military service has been invaluable. My time in the Army taught me how to grow and develop as a person. It broadened my perspectives, fostered a lifelong love of learning, and taught me to seize every opportunity to continue educating myself

2) What do you want voters to know about you?

A: I want voters to know that I am here to listen. I want them to know that I have some of the same concerns and questions that they do about how our schools are run. I want them to know that I am a mom, a volunteer, a substitute teacher, and that I care about what happens in our community. My three boys have all attended District 1 schools. For the past twenty years, I have been an active parent in District 1. My youngest son is a rising 9th grader and I plan to continue volunteering for many years. From sports boosters to dress codes and from standardized tests to parent emails, I am well-versed in the workings of our schools. I want voters to know that I care about our students and our teachers. And that I’m the parent of a school-aged kid, just like many of them are, that only wants the best for our community.

3) What do you view as the most pressing issue students today face?

A: Data shows us that the most pressing issue students face today is social media. We’ve all heard about the negative effects it can have on self-esteem in our young people. Extensive exposure to social media can lead to depression, anxiety, body image issues, and sleep disturbances. Many school districts have restricted phone use in schools. I don’t know if that’s the answer for us, but I do know that it’s time to start having conversations about what we can all do to protect our children from the harmful effects that social media can have.

4) What are the top 3 priorities you aim to address if elected to the school board?

A:

  1. I will immediately address the budget in hopes of making us a more fiscally responsible district. I will work to ensure that your tax money goes where it is most needed – to our students and teachers in the classrooms.
  2. I will prioritize mental health and school safety. I will work with school counselors and resource officers to ensure they have every resource that they need to help our students reach their highest potential.
  3. I will be a champion for our educators, both faculty and staff, by advocating for continued support and increased pay. Teacher retention and recruitment will be a focus of my service. Our community deserves the best educators and they deserve to be recognized for their value.

DISTRICT 2 CANDIDATES

Headshot Ben Daugherty
Ben Daugherty (R)
Headshot Crystal Boehm
Crystal Boehm (I)

Campaign Page: https://daughertyforschoolboard.com/ 

1) How has education played a role in your life?

A: Education has taught me the value of hard work; you get out what you put in. I view education as the great equalizer, in allowing children of various backgrounds to thrive and find their spark. Education has shown me that there is a path for every child and a bright future, if we can create environments for those children to feel comfortable in and supported.

2) What do you want voters to know about you?

A: I want voters to know the heart behind my decision to run for this office. This is something I have been thinking about and praying about for 6 years, and as a father to four children (the older two being in our county schools) I have a very vested interest in the success of our schools, and will work hard every day to represent District 2 and the strong family values that our community represents.

3) What do you view as the most pressing issue students today face?

A: We live in a society today in which our childrens’ focus and attention is being fought for by social media and cell phones. A recent report from Education Week found that, “About two-thirds of U.S. students reported that they get distracted by using digital devices, and about 54 percent said they get distracted by other students who are using those resources.” As your next school board member, I will work to ensure that we are minimizing these distractions in our classrooms, so that our children can focus 100% of their attention on being academically successful.

4) What are the top 3 priorities you aim to address if elected to the school board?

A:

  1. As your next school board member, I will work to reduce the frequency of Benchmark Testing to minimize the strain placed on our students and our teachers.
  2. I will prioritize teacher salaries early and as a cornerstone to the budget.
  3. I will develop a comprehensive maintenance and repairs plan for our community schools to ensure much needed updates are being prioritized.

Campaign Page: http://www.crystald2.com/ 

1) How has education played a role in your life?

A: Education has been a huge part of my life.  I attended public school from kindergarten until graduation.  School is where I formed the vast majority of my friendships but it’s also where I discovered my passion for community.  I had so many teachers who made such a difference in my life including Mrs. Neal who made me sign a contract saying I would go to college and Mr. LeDuc who taught physical science but would cancel class to have what he called “life lessons”.  I’ll never forget the impact these adults had on my life.

2) What do you want voters to know about you?

A: I want voters to know that I truly believe in providing a great public education for EVERY student in Hamilton County.  I’ve been a substitute teacher for the last four years which has given me a unique perspective of our schools.  I promise that every vote that I cast and every piece of policy I help to write will be in the best interest of our students and their educators.

3) What do you view as the most pressing issue students today face?

A: I believe the amount of standardized testing has become a huge problem in our schools.  In addition to state required tests, we do Benchmark tests 3 times a year.  These tests are not a good assessment of our children’s academic success.  I’ve spoken to so many parents of straight A students that have test anxiety or just don’t test well and these tests show them at a remedial level.  On the other hand, I spoke with a college professor and he shared that because of the over abundance of standardized testing, his students are lacking critical thinking skills.  I also believe the time taken in the classroom to prepare for these tests and to execute them can be better spent allowing our teachers to do what they do best…TEACH!  

4) What are the top 3 priorities you aim to address if elected to the school board?

A:

  1. Teacher retention is a major priority of mine.  20% of teachers are not coming back each year and between 20-30% less people are graduating with degrees in education than a decade ago.  If we do not prioritize supporting our teachers and increasing salaries, this statistic will only get worse. 
  2. I aim to reduce the amount of standardized testing from our public schools.  We spend too much time and money on these tests when the majority of teachers agree that it’s not a good enough assessment of their students’ success.  
  3. We currently have a billion dollars in deferred maintenance in Hamilton County.  This needs to be a priority.  We have children trying to learn with no heat in their classrooms.  We can’t expect our children to focus in facilities that are not safe, clean and conducive to learning.

DISTRICT 7 CANDIDATES

Jodi Schaffer (R)
Headshot David Kelman
David Sean Kelman (I)

1) How has education played a role in your life?

A: 

2) What do you want voters to know about you?

A: 

3) What do you view as the most pressing issue students today face?

A: 

4) What are the top 3 priorities you aim to address if elected to the school board?

A: 

1) How has education played a role in your life?

A: I am foremost a product of DeKalb County Public Schools. These schools, and the men and women who worked there, helped give me a sound mind in a sound body. Teachers, coaches, and other extracurricular sponsors played a major role. My Boy Scouts troop contributed a great deal, as did Sunday School. As an undergraduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, I further grew as a person, thanks as much to my peers and my athletic coaches as to my professors. The preceding sentences are just a glorified resume, aren’t they? But once I began my software engineering career, the resume bullets translated to action and accomplishment. In the business and engineering world, I saw how far my education -and the efforts of my teachers and coaches- had taken me. I wasn’t just a collection of facts and opinions. I knew how to think, how to solve problems, how to lead teams, how to collaborate with others, and how to advocate for a plan of action. I also saw that education doesn’t end with a degree, but that my professional world expected continued professional education and lifelong learning from employees and leaders. Once I had “made it” in technology, I wanted to pay it forward, and so education plays its latest role in my life: I spent the last 15 years as a teacher and coach at Hamilton County Schools. I have former students who are sound minds in sound bodies, raising their own families.

2) What do you want voters to know about you?

A: I’ve been married 25 years, we have two kids, and we are committed to our community public schools. One daughter just became a K-12 graduate of Hamilton County Schools, and the other is a local public high school student. I am running as an independent because I am committed to representing all District 7 families and all our education professionals, and I don’t want them to feel like I am beholden to anyone other than them. We’ve lived in the same house in District 7 for 17 years, I’ve served our neighborhood association twice, and I’ve been active for years at community forums and initiatives. My wife is a long time Girl Scout troop administrator. Between that and my 15 years spent in the school system, I know the diverse and dynamic story of our community.

3) What do you view as the most pressing issue students today face?

A: Students look ahead to so many ever-evolving roles of participation in adult society, but our schools don’t always consistently offer the paths to prepare for that. Part of that is due to incomplete, inflexible, or inauthentic curriculum options, but it is even more due to our talent retention crisis. Attract, retain, and empower great adult professionals in our schools, and our students will get the opportunities they need to become adults who can think for themselves and play their fullest roles in society

4) What are the top 3 priorities you aim to address if elected to the school board?

A:

  1. Fix the talent retention crisis through empowering teachers to meet their students’ needs and by providing the incentives our workers need to stay with us. Most of those incentives are not financial, if you understand what teachers want and need.
  2. Expand access and variety to extracurriculars through enhancing transportation and activity sponsorship options.
  3. Refocus the ties between the “central office” mission (the mission to support the adults that work directly with our kids) and central office actions and spending decisions. That means, as much as possible, keeping our money local. That means, as much as possible, making decisions in a manner that avoids detrimental impacts on the adults that work in front of our kids. That means ensuring that everyone in our system has a thorough understanding of every aspect of on-campus workers’ lives. That means leveraging my years of experience as a parent, as a teacher, as a coach, and as a software engineering business professional.

DISTRICT 10 CANDIDATES

Felice Hadden (R)
Angie Stone Jackson (D)

Campaign Page: www.ElectFeliceHadden.com 

1) How has education played a role in your life?

A: I was raised by a single mother in the inner city area of Atlanta, Georgia. We were living below the poverty level and my mother struggled to make a living for us. I started working at a restaurant when I was 14 years old to help my mother pay the bills. I was determined to work hard, be a good student and go to college in order to have a secure and normal life as an adult. I received a good education in the public school system and I believe anyone can still receive a good education in public schools.

2) What do you want voters to know about you?

A: I want voters to know that not only am I highly qualified for the position based on my education and experience, but I also really care about the education and well being of all students. I have taught the highest achievers in school as well as the students with disabilities and very challenging personal circumstances. The success and wellbeing of each of these students is very important to me.

3) What do you view as the most pressing issue students today face?

A: I think the most pressing issues is that students need to have an engaging learning environment which is updated with the latest technology, safe and structurally sound, and in a classroom led by a really good certified teacher.

4) What are the top 3 priorities you aim to address if elected to the school board?

A:

  1. Having a qualified teacher in place for every regular classroom teacher position.
  2. Forming stronger relationships between the teacher, parent/guardian, and student where each have rights and responsibilities.
  3. Having updated and safe environments where students can learn without the distractions of discipline issues.

1) How has education played a role in your life?

A: I feel very fortunate to have had the teachers I had when growing up. My teachers were everything to me next to my family and friends. They always showed up for us. I can remember if a substitute was scheduled, it was a really big deal because it was so rare. My parents and my teachers taught me to be respectful to others, to complete work in a timely manner, to play nice, to be helpful, and always strive to d​o my best. I was ready to manage myself and begin a future on my own when I graduated from high school. I did not just receive a good education, I received life and social skills that helped me succeed as an adult.

2) What do you want voters to know about you?

A: I want voters to know how serious the issues are in our district, and we must course correct when it comes to how teachers feel about teaching in Hamilton County. It’s distressing to know so many teachers do not feel trusted, and they definitely do not feel they are appreciated or paid a fair and living wage. As you’ve heard before, a community is only as good as its schools. Companies that consider moving here to bring good jobs consider the public school’s performance, not private schools. We have to create a culture of support for our teachers. Where we reward and pay teachers a fair and competitive wage and we listen to what they have to say.

3) What do you view as the most pressing issue students today face?

A: Oversized classrooms, bullying, and too many tests.

4) What are the top 3 priorities you aim to address if elected to the school board?

A: If I’m elected, the first of my top three priorities will be to create an advisory committee, consisting of teachers and parents from D10 for the purpose of hearing firsthand from teachers and parents, about concerns, things they hope to change, and to find out what they are excited about. Ideally, I would meet with the advisory committee once or twice monthly. Another, encourage the school board to adopt a practice of no voting on anything that will greatly impact our teachers and kids until the board has heard from teachers, parents, and the community. Third priority is to address student behavior issues. I know this is a broad statement, we’re aware of bullying & disruptive behavior without proper or effective follow through.

DISTRICT 11 CANDIDATES

Sherrie Guinn Ford (R)
Jill Black (D)

1) How has education played a role in your life?

A: Education played a huge role in my life and provided me with a path to success and a way out of poverty. I was raised by blue-collar, hard-working parents that put everything they had into raising their children and helping us create a better future. I lived in a house with four rooms and six people that did not even have indoor plumbing until I was in the 5th grade. When my siblings and I were young, my father worked construction when the weather was good and didn’t work when it wasn’t. Neither of my parents completed high school, but my mom eventually earned her GED. Yes, we struggled but my parents emphasized to my brothers and me that education was the path to a better life. They were right. We all became successful and productive citizens due to the encouragement we received from our parents and the quality education we received. I took the same position when raising my own children, and they went on to earn college degrees and have successful careers thanks to the education they received in our public schools and in college. Education for my family and me equals success!

2) What do you want voters to know about you?

A: I want voters to know how passionate I am about education. I have spent more than half my life working and volunteering in the field of education to ensure all students receive a quality education, regardless of where they live and their background. This means every child has the necessary instruction, materials, and classroom support in their public school so they are prepared to be successful in life. I believe all students can become productive and successful members of our society either through vocational training or college, as long as our public schools are doing what is needed to prepare them for life after high school.

3) What do you view as the most pressing issue students today face?

A: Students face many issues and challenges today, but the main issue I see is lack of face-to-face communication with adults and each other. Students today have never known a world without technology. While I certainly believe technology has its place and can help make our lives better, students are spending way too much time on electronic devices and use them too much as their method of communication and personal interactions with their friends. As a result, we have seen a significant increase in bullying, self-esteem issues and other mental health issues.

4) What are the top 3 priorities you aim to address if elected to the school board?

A:

  1. Lack of student discipline in the classroom: we continue receive reports that a number of students are having disciplinary issues in our schools which is making it more challenging for teachers to do their jobs effectively. We need to establish a clearly defined plan that is enforced across the district where school leaders, teachers, and parents are working together to ensure our classrooms are free from any disruptions while finding ways to address the student’s behavior.
  2. Teacher retention and the need for salary increases: We need to do more for our public school teachers, and it starts with paying our teachers. Teaching is a highly competitive field, and it’s one of the hardest positions to fill within the school system. This issue is more than just their salary. We need to look at our benefit and retirement package, the tools and resources provided to help them succeed in the classroom, and professional development opportunities. I believe it’s time that we examine our budget and find ways we can better use our school funds to support the short-term and long-term needs of our teachers.
  3. Parental Involvement: our school system often has made decisions without getting feedback or input from our parents. Likewise, our public schools – for the most part – lack strong parental involvement in various programs and services. This must change if we want to move our school system forward. Our school system should reflect the values of our community and the parents who have children in the classrooms. We need a school board representative that understands this point and wants to bring parents into the decision-making process. Having active parents in the schools will lead to a more engaged parent, which will help lead to building strong support for future investments in our school system and create better educational outcomes for our children.

1) How has education played a role in your life?

A: I have always viewed robust public education as the foundation of a thriving community. I am passionate about public education because I went to private school. Let me explain. My mother was a single mother raising me in Alabama and chose to sacrifice and send me to private school, wanting to provide the best for me. She prioritized my education and always encouraged me to forge my own path to independence. As I grew older and understood more about the world, I realized that circumstance has a lot to do with success. I believe deeply that no one should feel like they have to pay for private school, even if they can’t really afford it, in order for their children to have a good education. The public schools that are available to everyone should be the best we can offer. Because of my mother’s investment and encouragement, I earned a scholarship to the University of Mississippi, where I completed my BA in Sociology. I went on to study social work and complete my MSSW at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. All of these experiences shape who I am today and my dedication to public education as one of my core social values.

2) What do you want voters to know about you?

A: I ran for office because I wanted to use my time to be of service and create the kind of community I want to pass on to my children. I am a wife, a mom of two kids in public school, and a social worker. Even though I do not practice social work in a job outside the home anymore, I view my service on the school board as my social work practice. My decisions and advocacy reflect my professional code of ethics as a licensed social worker. I am dedicated to finding real solutions to the issues that face our students and educators. If we keep the main thing the main thing, kids, then we will govern in a way that serves everyone.

3) What do you view as the most pressing issue students today face?

A: Following COVID, our students struggled with adjusting to returning to school. We saw an increase in behavioral and mental health problems, causing issues for students and teachers. During my time on the school board so far, we have already successfully restructured the staffing model to nearly double the number of mental health professionals available – at least one available to each school in Hamilton County. It’s an invaluable investment to address a growing issue in schools everywhere and to relieve pressure on our teachers so that they can focus on teaching. We need to Keep our students ready to learn and providing opportunities to study what interests them will lead to students taking ownership of their own learning and lead to better outcomes.

4) What are the top 3 priorities you aim to address if elected to the school board?

A: Address teacher retention by increasing pay and improve their working environment. We must keep our talented teachers in the classroom working with our kids. Invest in school facilities to address years of neglect. The facilities plan we received failed to address real issues in school buildings in black and brown communities. I fought hard to prioritize a brand new school building at Clifton Hills Elementary and it is now the second-highest priority on the facilities plan that we sent to the county commission. Provide resources to address student behavior and mental health issues so they enter the classroom ready to learn. By addressing behavior issues we are providing support students need and improving the working environment for our classroom teachers so that they can focus on what they do best, teaching.

No responses were received from the following 2024 Hamilton County school board candidates:

  • Jodi Schaffer
  • Jackie Anderson-Thomas

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811 Broad St. #100

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