The Hamilton County Board of Education is a legislative and policy-making body that manages and controls the public school system.
The board consists of nine elected representatives. Board members are elected from the districts they represent. The districts coincide with the Hamilton County Commission.
Members serve staggered four-year terms — approximately half of the board is elected every two years — and they are not term-limited. School board elections are nonpartisan.
- District 1: Rhonda Thurman
- District 2: Jonathan Welch
- District 3: Greg Martin
- District 4: George Ricks
- District 5: Karitsa Mosley
- District 6: Joe Galloway
- District 7: Donna Horn
- District 8: David Testerman
- Steve Highlander
The school board is responsible for the public school system in Hamilton County. It follows the policies, rules and regulations set by the Tennessee Board of Education and enforces them on a local level.
The school board has four main responsibilities:
- Hire a director of schools (superintendent)
- Make personnel and infrastructure decisions
- Submit an operating budget to the Hamilton County Commission
- Provide for student enrollment
The school board appoints a superintendent to run the department of education. It sets requirements and expectations, evaluates his performance and decides what local policies the department should follow.
Personnel and Infrastructure Decisions
The board manages and controls all public schools in the district. It fixes teachers’ salaries and enters into contracts with them.
The board also controls infrastructure in the district, including property and buildings. It has the power to purchase land and erect buildings.
The school board authorizes all expenditures and approves an annual budget that it submits to the Hamilton County Commission. The Department of Education accounts for about 60 percent of the county’s budget.
The school board’s provides enrollment for eligible students in Hamilton County’s public schools. The board establishes minimum attendance requirements, as well as standards for passing courses and grades.
Board members meet monthly in the board room of the Hamilton County Department of Education. Meeting dates are approved in advance. A schedule of meetings and meeting agendas are published online. The meetings are open to the public.
The board makes decisions collectively on agenda items. A single board member has no authority on a particular item unless he or she has been delegated that authority by fellow board members. In other words, no one member has the ability to make decisions without the consent of the majority.
The board chair is an example of one member who has been delegated independent authority.
In September every year, members name a chair. The chair has several important duties and responsibilities.
The chair sits on the executive committee along with the superintendent. The executive committee prepares agendas for board meetings and annual budgets; advertises bids, lets contracts and serves as the board’s purchasing agent; and oversees accounts to ensure the current budget has not been exceeded[^10].
The chair also presides over board meetings and conducts board hearings.