Hamilton County Mayor Wamp wants to add career high school in downtown Chattanooga

To address what he calls Hamilton County’s biggest challenge, county mayor Weston Wamp said Thursday that a vocational or technical high school will be built next year in downtown Chattanooga, where no new high school has been built in more than 60 years. said to proceed.

Wamp, who has served on the Tennessee Board of Governors for the past three years, said the new school would “signal a new era” that focuses not just on college preparation, but on career preparation.

“From Fender to finance, from health science to computer science, we want to make it a place of exciting learning that requires partnerships with many companies, not just Chattanooga State University (a community college),” Wamp said. Said in his speech: To the Rotary Club of Chattanooga. “I think this sets new standards, like yesterday when we announced a full investment in Tyner Academy, the most expensive school ever built in this county.”

Despite higher-than-expected costs, Wamp said Wednesday that the county will reprioritize its budget to fund a new $96 million Tyner Academy. He said the new downtown schools could be funded, at least in part, through special tax districts of the kind being considered for West Side Bend next year. , redirected to payments for infrastructure and public improvements.

Since the opening of the Tennessee Aquarium in 1992, Chattanooga has rebuilt its downtown with over $1 billion in new investments in and around downtown during the 35-year-old county mayor’s tenure. The school was closed, the site was repurposed for a baseball field and hotel development, and the old city high school was repurposed for his two high schools. Chattanooga High School Creative Arts Center and Chattanooga School for the Arts & Sciences.

“We’ve had to go back to the 1960s since we built a new high school in downtown Chattanooga. We’ve paid for that investment, I would argue,” Wamp said. The opportunity is to capture a moment that will change both the perception and the reality of public education in this county.”

In 2002, new elementary schools were built at Tommy F. Brown Academy on the Chattanooga campus near the University of Tennessee and Battle Academy on the Southside. But Wamp said more needs to be done in central cities and career education, especially for students who struggle with traditional college-level courses and are looking for other career options. .

Hamilton County Commissioner Chip Baker, R-Signal Mountain, who previously served on the county board of education, said in a phone interview Thursday that it would be nice if there were plans to build new schools and renovate them. said. Study sessions for school and county leaders.

Staff Photo by Dave Flessner / Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp spoke at the Rotary Club of Chattanooga on Thursday.

“I hope he (Wamp) takes the lead for our school’s superintendent. If the superintendent thinks this is a top priority, that’s great,” Baker said. rice field.

Wamp and his deputy mayor of education and former county school board chairman Tucker McClendon also pushed for the purchase of the vacant office complex in East Brainerd for the new school, and the soon-to-be-vacant Chattanooga in East・Proposed the use of a liberal arts school. Brainerd Road helping homeless families and students.

But in an interview after his speech, Wamp said he hoped the school system as a whole would look like it would integrate some of the 79 public schools across Hamilton County.

The state has historically provided high levels of funding for education, Wamp said, and Hamilton County has committed about $47 million more under the Tennessee Student Achievement Investment Plan adopted by the legislature last year. expected to receive. Wamp hailed Hamilton County School Principal Justin Robertson as “one of the best school principals in the history of this county.”

Gov. Bill Lee, a former mechanical engineer who previously ran a home services and construction company in Williamson County that included on-site job training, offers “an extraordinary investment in technical education,” Wamp said. Stated.

“I want to stir the imagination of high school students and make them think about careers,” he said. “We want to give them the opportunity starting in the summer, and hopefully the opportunity to work while they are in school will expand into the school year.”

Wamp appealed to Rotary club owners and managers.

“This may look like a cooperative, it may look like an apprenticeship, it may look like an internship,” he said. We must meet and serve young people, especially those lacking hope that we see in our communities.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6340. follow him on twitter @DFlessner1.

Photo Staff Photo Credit: Robin Rudd / Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp answers questions at the Hamilton County Commission’s meeting on Wednesday.

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