The School Board on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015 reviewed plans for the new/replacement CCSD administration building and officially welcomed the new District 1 Board Member.
The Board last month appointed Kelly Poole, an accountant and longtime PTA and community volunteer, to the District 1 seat, which was vacated when Kyla Cromer was appointed School Board Chair. Ms. Poole, accompanied by her husband and two children, was sworn into office on Thursday by Cherokee County Probate Court Judge Keith Wood. The term expires Dec. 31, 2016, and District 1 includes the BridgeMill and Sixes area.
During its Strategic Work Session, the Board heard a status report from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo and his staff on planning for the new/replacement administration building to be constructed on Bluffs Parkway in Canton. The Board in March unanimously approved a land swap agreement with the City of Canton to build what will be called the CCSD Educational Services Facility. In exchange for Buildings A and B in downtown Canton, CCSD received 16 acres of City-owned property across from the Cherokee County government’s administration building north of Riverstone Plaza. The new CCSD building will allow for the reunification of 150 employees from various departments in one more cost-effective facility and will include an open meeting space for professional development, special events and School Board meetings that is significantly larger than current options.
An advertisement seeking proposals from general contractors to build the complex will be published today; the Board will consider selection of a proposal at its December meeting. Construction would begin in January and be completed by August 2017. Construction of the $15 Million project will be funded by Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) revenue, as previously approved by voters. Estimated costs per square foot are less than similar projects recently constructed in the county, and the design and construction will incorporate the same cost- and energy-efficient elements as featured in newer CCSD schools.
Board Member Mike Chapman said it makes good business sense to build professional office space for administrative staff and training needs in order to attract and retain the best employees. “Anyone who sees this plan should understand that,” he said, noting that taxpayers have shown their support through approving the project as part of three Ed SPLOST votes. Board Member Clark Menard said he is pleased that the design allows for some future staff growth, which extends the lifespan of the facility without the need for immediate additions. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo said the facility is “long overdue,” noting that the county’s other government entities have made significant investments in infrastructure, while CCSD prioritized building 19 new and replacement schools to accommodate student enrollment growth. “It’s always difficult to justify spending on administrative infrastructure, but we can’t be as productive an organization as we have been or hope to continue to be without efficient facilities,” he said. “I think we’ve built a strong case for the need.”
The Board and the audience rose to its feet several times for a special recognition during the regular meeting to honor Immediate Past School Board Chair Janet Read for distinguished service. Ms. Read, who for two decades served CCSD as a PTA volunteer and then as a School Board member and its first countywide elected Chair, stepped down earlier this year due to an employment opportunity that would not allow her to serve in public office. She was thanked not only by the Board and Superintendent of Schools, which presented her with a framed gavel and commemorative plaque, but also by the Cherokee County Council of PTA and Georgia PTA, which presented her with a Life Achievement Award – the PTA’s highest honor for a volunteer.
During its work session, the School Board also took the following actions:
- Heard a report on the Governor’s proposed “Opportunity School District” State takeover plan, which would allow the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement to seize local schools, including CCSD schools, and turn the operations and the assets over to for-profit charter operators;
- Heard a status report on the implementation of Kronos, an integrated personnel and payroll system to improve CCSD operational efficiency;
- Reviewed the draft 2016 Legislative Program, which calls on the Cherokee County Legislative Delegation to:
- Fund the existing State educational funding formula to fully restore “austerity budget cuts”;
- Address skyrocketing premiums and out-out-pocket expenses for participation in the State Health Benefit Program;
- Support local control and management of public schools rather than supporting State takeover plans like the Governor’s proposed “Opportunity School District” Constitutional Amendment;
- Correct evaluation models for teachers and administrators to allow greater emphasis on observation of their performance by trained administrators and supervisors;
- Stop the erosion of the State’s tax base through tax exemptions for private companies;
- Oppose the continuation and/or expansion of programs that use public funds to pay for private school tuition and/or provide tax incentives.
- Heard staff updates including the announcement that Boundary Focus Groups will not be needed this fall, as no boundary redrawings will be proposed for the 2016-17 School Year. During its regular meeting, the School Board also took the following actions:
- Recognized Clark Creek ES STEM Academy for Earning State STEM Certification; • Recognized Hickory Flat ES as 2015-2017 National PTA School of Excellence;
- Recognized CCSD Schools as Governor’s SHAPE (Student Health and Physical Education) Honor Roll Honorees (names of recognized teachers are posted here);
- Recognized the 20th Anniversary of Georgia Pre-K in CCSD;
- Approved a proclamation in honor of Retired Educators Day, Nov. 1, 2015.
- Approved monthly financial reports;
- Approved out-of-state travel;
- Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;
- Approved monthly update on capital outlay projects;
- Approved monthly personnel recommendations including the retirement of Dr. Pat Kearns, Director of Curriculum and Academic Standards, who began her tenure with CCSD in 1999 after working for the Sequoyah Regional Library System and in public school administration in Iowa;
- The School Board Attorney recommended that the School Board meet in Executive Session following the Nov. 5, 2015 regular meeting in order to review applications for the Superintendent of Schools position and possibly select finalists for interviews; and,
- Met in Executive Session to review an attorney-client privilege matter, but took no action upon returning to open session. Next School Board meeting: 7 p.m. Nov. 5, 2015
Board Briefs (PDF) 10/16/2015