Board Briefs: First Meeting with New Superintendent of Schools
The School Board on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016 heard its first reports from newly appointed Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, who took office this week.
Dr. Hightower during his comments thanked the School Board and his staff for the successful transition and shared the new logo for the Cherokee County School District.
“We were looking for a brand that would play on our blue ribbon reputation. We’re very proud of that,” Dr. Hightower said of the inspiration for the logo, which features two shades of blue and a “C” for Cherokee. “We want people to know when they see these ribbons of blue with a ‘C’ in the middle that we’re talking about an organization of excellence.”
His remarks also included an overview of a “State of the School District”-style presentation he made Thursday morning to several hundred business and community leaders at the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce’s monthly breakfast sponsored by Chattahoochee Technical College. School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, who attended the breakfast with several Board members, praised Dr. Hightower’s performance and requested that he share highlights from it with the full Board.
The Chamber presentation focused on seven “essential behaviors” Dr. Hightower sees as integral to CCSD success; during the School Board meeting, he spoke to one of those – “Focusing on Teaching and Learning,” noting that he would speak to other tenets at future meetings.
Dr. Hightower spoke to his intention to strongly advocate for teachers, adding that one of his first such steps is to direct the Office of Educational Programs staff to review the current standardized tests administered to CCSD students and determine which could be eliminated to reduce testing pressure on teachers and students and their families.
“Ask any teacher, and they’ll tell you there is too much testing,” Dr. Hightower said, noting that he is focused on maintaining accountability, but eliminating redundancy. “Teaching is a profession that was once revered, but now feels devalued and under pressure.”
Also during the meeting, Dr. Hightower reviewed for the Board a revised plan for inclement weather early dismissal. A letter from Dr. Hightower outlining this plan was shared with CCSD parents by email notification on Friday, Feb. 5, and is posted on the CCSD website homepage.
Dr. Hightower said that he and his staff consider school closures, delays in opening and early dismissals due to inclement weather very seriously and routinely review and modify all related protocols and operating procedures so as to continually improve them.
As a result of one such recent review, revisions have been made, effective immediately, to the contingency plans for dismissing school early.
The revised plan calls for high school, middle school, STEM/Fine Arts and ACE Academy dismissal to begin prior to elementary schools, allowing all high school student drivers to leave campus immediately when early dismissal is ordered.
“In doing so, this allows less-experienced high school drivers to clear ahead of pending weather,” Dr. Hightower said. “This revision also allows there to be older siblings at home ahead of transported elementary school-age students and allows elementary schools a longer period of time in which to contact parents relative to the closure of their After School Programs.”
The only exception to this change will be when the dismissal is one hour or less. In that situation, elementary schools will release first since they have earlier ending times to the school day.
“We want our parents to know that we’re doing our best to keep their kids safe,” Dr. Hightower said.
The Board also approved monthly personnel recommendations including the appointment of Trey Olson as Deputy Superintendent for School Operations, Personnel and Support.
Mr. Olson has served with CCSD for 19 years including as a classroom teacher, school administrator, District administrator and, most recently, as the Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Management.
“We are very proud of Trey,” Dr. Hightower said, noting that Mr. Olson led CCSD’s Office of Personnel Management through “some of its most trying times” due to State “austerity budget cuts” and Local property tax declines. “He’s done an outstanding job of that.”
During its regular meeting, the School Board also:
- Approved a resolution proclaiming March 1, 2016 as “PTA Day in the Cherokee County School District;”
- Recognized Teasley MS as the National Family Partnership’s Red Ribbon Campaign Photo Contest Winner;
- Recognized Woodstock HS teacher Dr. Krista Webb as the Georgia State Society’s 2015 Outstanding American History Teacher;
- Recognized Mill Creek MS sixth-grader Rachel Kim as the Cherokee County winner of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District 2015 Water Essay Contest;
- Recognized CCSD’s 2015-16 All State Band and Orchestra Members, which include students from Cherokee, Creekview and River Ridge HS;
- Recognized State and Region Champions from Cherokee HS Football and Softball and Woodstock HS Softball Teams;
- Approved the renewal of Partnership Agreements with Aramark Management Services and Cherokee County YMCA;
- 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 a special lease agreement;
- School Board Attorney Tom Roach announced the annual board training/retreat will be held at 9 a.m. on March 5 at Reinhardt University; and,
- Approved the 2016-17 Organizational Chart.
Next School Board meeting: 7 p.m. March 17, 2016