Boyd, who is in his second term representing District 8, touched on plans to upgrade Erlanger East’s facilities in East Brainerd to the tune of $50 million. He spoke of Erlanger’s main campus undergoing a $300 to $400 million renovation over the next seven to 10 years.
Boyd invited East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert to say a few words. Mayor Lambert threw out some big numbers relating to development at Exit 1. He said between Bass Pro Shops, Life Care Centers of America and two renovated motels, developers were sinking more than $50 million into the area around the interchange on Interstate 75.
But the number that got the most attention from the smattering of citizens attending was 40 cents. That is the amount of the tax increase Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith is proposing, among other things, to give teachers a five percent pay raise.
“My question to Rick Smith is this: ‘Are you efficiently and effectively using every tax dollar the (county school system) is getting?'” Boyd asked. “I’ve asked him to prove that the $400 million the county is funding for schools used efficiently.
“I’m going to be a real hard sell,” he said.
Boyd bemoaned the fact that only 15 percent of the people _ presumably products of the county school system _ taking a 7th-grade level math assessment test to enter an area job training program for lineman (people working on power poles) were able to pass it.
According to Boyd, county taxpayers spend about $130,000 per student educating them over a 13-year period. He said the taxpayer will spend close to $200,000 per student over the next 13 years educating those children entering kindergarten today.
He said the taxpayers “deserve a better product” for the $400 million the county spends on education each year.
Part of the problem, Boyd said, is ineffective teachers.
He told those gathered that he spoke with seven school principals in District 8 and all of them said that they could not terminate “ineffective” teachers in their schools. He believes there are “ineffective” teachers not just in his district, but county-wide. The solution, he said, is to have more effective leadership to replace teachers with better ones.
One audience member, presumably a teacher, asked if the county could attract a higher caliber teacher by increasing the pay. Boyd said it doesn’t work that way, and pointed to the fact that teachers at private schools make less than their counterparts in public schools, and they produce higher-achieving students.
The audience member dismissed his answer by saying that increasing pay in every other profession attracts a more qualified candidate for the job.
East Ridge City Councilman Denny Manning told Boyd that something needed to be done with the crumbling home stands at Raymond James Stadium at East Ridge High School. Manning said that he is concerned that someone may get hurt and it could cost the city.
Boyd said he has discussed the issue of crumbling facilities with Gary Waters, the school system’s facilities manager. An engineering study has been done and Boyd has used some of his discretionary funds to paint and patch.
“We’ve put lipstick on that pig, but it’s still a pig,” Boyd said. “Before my term is up in 2018, I’d like to see it torn down and rebuilt.”
On the economic development front, Boyd said it is “key” for the county to help in funding a $2.5 million redesign of the east side exit on I-75. He said that he and Mayor Lambert have spoken with County Mayor Jim Coppinger about efforts to convince TDOT to prioritize the construction of a new design similar to the one recently completed on the west side of the exchange.
He said the redesign would greatly increase ease of access to Camp Jordan and the new commercial developments in the immediate area. He said it was a great plan, easily attainable and could be completed within two years.
“Hamilton County, East Ridge and the developers must have skin in the game,” Boyd said of the road improvements. “We need to go to Nashville and say ‘here is our pot of money,’ and push this to make it a priority.”