The Cherokee County School Board on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, approved three important pieces in the School District’s continuous improvement efforts: the newly formatted annual update of the Strategic Plan, the new Instructional Framework and the newly formatted School Improvement Plans.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower and his staff guided the Board members through the plans, which all are focused on improving teaching and learning throughout CCSD.
The five-year Strategic Plan, which is updated annually and incorporates goals set by departments and schools to achieve the School Board’s Major System Priorities, has been realigned to accreditation agency AdvancED’s “Standards for Quality School Systems,” which the organization will use in its review early next year for CCSD’s accreditation renewal.
“We’ve intentionally simplified the plan without sacrificing any accountability,” Dr. Hightower said. “We think this will be an effective format for us going forward.”
The Instructional Framework (IF) is a set of expectations that will guide how CCSD teachers design instruction and assess student learning. Just as CCSD adopts standards outlining expectations for students’ learning, the IF sets expectations for teachers’ instructional practices.
Full implementation of the IF spans a period of four years. Teachers will continue to work for the rest of this school year in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to further study the IF standards and how they compare to current practices. On the Staff Development day, scheduled for Jan. 2, 2017, all teachers will attend Zone meetings for additional guidance from Principals and Educational Programs’ staff on the IF implementation plan.
Board Chair Kyla Cromer thanked staff for their considerable work on the project, noting that she has heard very positive reviews from parents who attended stakeholder meetings including Georgia PTA President Lisa-Marie Haygood, a Sequoyah High School parent.
“She said ‘This is going to be what sets Cherokee County apart,’ and I agree with her,” Ms. Cromer said.
The newly formatted School Improvement Plans approved Thursday were based on “gap” analyses completed districtwide to compare CCSD schools to schools with similar demographics not only within the District, but also statewide. The resulting comparable data provided Principals better information to use in setting two three-year goals, versus the former “laundry list,” and each goal was required to be “smart, specific and measurable.” The majority of the goals – 41 – focus on literacy.
“I think the goals are fantastic. They’re not only trying to bring up the bottom… but also extend the top,” Board Member Clark Menard said, noting he especially appreciates the “totally metric-driven goals.”
The Board also recognized and thanked members of the citizen committee, led by Cherokee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Buzz Ahrens, that successfully campaigned for the continuation of the Education SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax). Voters in the Nov. 8 election overwhelmingly voted to continue the Education SPLOST: 78,796 voters for a total of 73% said “yes” to the continuation… more voters than the four previous Ed SPLOST successful votes combined. The School Board on Thursday approved a resolution officially declaring the election results.
“Education SPLOST funds are integral to the continued success of our School District,” Dr. Hightower said, noting the renewal allows CCSD to continue to use sales tax revenue to pay for school construction, renovation projects, technology upgrades, buying buses, acquiring land for future schools and retiring bonds. “This success would not have been possible without the advocacy efforts of the citizen committee… thank you!”
During the meeting section when Board members bring up new issues, Mike Chapman asked his fellow board members whether they would consider reviewing board member compensation. School Board Members for CCSD, the ninth-largest school system in Georgia, receive $600 a month for their service… which is significantly less than most large school systems, such as eighth-largest Henry County (which has only 14 more students than CCSD), where members receive $16,000 a year.
Board members, who noted the compensation had not increased in 15 years and any increase would not take effect until current members’ next terms — if re-elected, agreed to take up the issue at the Jan. 19 meeting. If approved, an increase would require local legislation by Cherokee County’s State Legislative Delegation.
The School Board also:
- Recognized Canton Elementary School STEM Academy as winner of the 2016 Georgia STEM Education Award for Elementary Schools;
- Recognized CCSD Teacher of the Year Brian Carnes of Sequoyah HS;
- Recognized the 2016-17 Reinhardt University/CCSD Mathematics Tournament winners;
- Recognized State and Region Champions including Creekview HS softball, cross-country and competition cheerleading teams and coaches and Sequoyah HS and Etowah HS One-Act Play competition cast and crew members and directors;
- Approved monthly financial and Education SPLOST reports;
- Approved out-of-state travel;
- Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;
- Approved the monthly capital outlay projects report;
- Approved monthly personnel recommendations;
- Approved the Board’s local governance training plan including a Feb. 11 retreat;
- Approved a 2017-18 attendance area map correction.
Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017