School Bus Safety Reminders

School Bus Safety Reminders

Category : CCSD

More than 400 bright yellow school buses will be back on the roads in Cherokee County August 1 as the 2017-18 school year gets underway this week. Drivers should stay alert and watch for children waiting at roadside bus stops throughout the county during morning and afternoon routes. The start of the school year is also a good time for drivers (and parents of new drivers) to revisit Georgia law about encountering a school bus on the road and when it is legal to pass a stopped bus:

Georgia law requires motorists traveling in BOTH directions to stop for a school bus that has engaged its flashing lights and stop arm, indicating that children are boarding or departing the bus, UNLESS that road is divided by a concrete or grass/dirt median. If there is a median, drivers travelling the opposite direction of the school bus can continue at a safe speed. Drivers behind the bus must always stop, no matter the circumstance. Note: A center turn lane is NOT a median, and the number of lanes on the roadway does not alter the law.

The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office has announced plans to have an enhanced law enforcement presence around school campuses this week to ease traffic and emphasize safety in school zones. Woodstock area motorists are also reminded of the traffic construction underway at the intersection of East Cherokee Drive and Highway 5, which is expected to cause additional delays in the areas of Johnston Elementary School, as well as thru traffic to Mill Creek Middle School and River Ridge High School from East Cherokee Drive.

CCSD Employees Stay Busy During Summer Break

CCSD Transportation Technician Samuel Shelton inspects a brand new bus upon delivery to CCSD. The School District purchased 12 new full-size buses for the 2017-18 school year.

Summer months are far from slow in the Cherokee County School District, as employees, in addition to running summer school and meal programs, stay busy with facility maintenance, professional development and preparing operations for the new school year.

CCSD Facility Technician Eli Gibbs works on a rooftop HVAC unit at Johnston Elementary School. Projects there this summer air-conditioned the gym and upgraded the energy management system.

“Although the majority of students and teachers and other school-based staff enjoy a well-deserved two-month break, summer is a very busy time for our divisions and departments, as they complete significant behind-the-scenes work,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “We greatly appreciate the time and energy our employees invest into facilities, technology and training to prepare us for a successful school year.”

Hundreds of teachers, administrators and other staff participated in summer professional development training on topics ranging from more effective classroom use of instructional technology to lesson plans centered on newly adopted reading and writing teaching resources to tools for stronger classroom and school leadership.

CCSD teachers work on a STEM activity during a summer professional development class.

All CCSD school buses were inspected and routes mapped, new technology – including the Canvas learning management system and K12PaymentCenter school meal pre-payment system – began operating, and school nutrition staff prepared to roll out new menu options like the high school grill line!

Facility maintenance crews have been among the hardest working, with a long list of repairs and upgrades scheduled when campuses are emptied for summer break. Projects have included everything from replacing lighting fixtures with more efficient LED choices and updating ceiling tiles to installing new flooring and upgrading HVAC and energy management systems.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower speaks about leadership qualities with Principals, Assistant Principals and other administrators during the Superintendent’s Leadership Symposium event, sponsored by Northside Hospital Cherokee and the Cherokee County Educational Foundation.

Thanks to community partners, Northside Hospital Cherokee and the Cherokee County Educational Foundation, the Superintendent presented a Leadership Symposium professional development program for school and district leaders at which they heard remarks from him and leadership speaker Brian Dodd and attended break-out sessions on new CCSD initiatives led by senior staff.

“We’re focused on continuous improvement in every aspect of our organization to fulfill our mission of educating the emerging generation” Dr. Hightower said. “When school opens on August 1, we’ll be ready and stronger than ever before.”

Debra Murdock, CCSD Executive Director of Administrative Leadership, engages school administrators in a session at the Superintendent’s Leadership Symposium professional development event.

CCSD Transportation Technician Brad Benton replaces an axle on a school bus. All 452 CCSD school buses were inspected this summer by the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

CCSD Maintenance Technicians Tim McFarland (on ladder) and Ty Adams reroute wiring in the Hickory Flat Elementary School Media Center as one of their summer maintenance projects.

CCSD Warehouse staff Wesley Lee, left, and Fred Dubois, right, deliver updated Student/Parent Handbooks to Etowah High School.

Clark Creek ES STEM Academy Principal Joey Moss, left, and Assistant Principal Susan Bruno speak with teachers and staff about the upcoming school year and present each with a school spirit wear cap.

Clark Creek ES STEM Academy teachers and leaders show off their new spirit wear caps.



Cherokee County School Board Continues School Safety Initiative

Category : Board Briefs | CCSD

The School Board on Thursday, July 20, 2017, unanimously approved the second phase of a safety initiative to install security foyers in schools, with six projects planned for this school year.

The Board approved a proposal from Womack, Lewis & Smith for $207,500 to complete the second phase of the multi-phase project; the vote was unanimous, with Board member Kelly Poole abstaining.

Security foyers, which create a second layer of front entrance doors to better monitor visitor access, already have been successfully installed by the company at eight schools. Foyers will be installed this school year at Clark Creek ES STEM Academy, Hasty and Oak Grove ES Fine Arts Academies and Indian Knoll, Knox and Woodstock Elementary Schools. Additional phases are planned to further secure other schools.

“We were pleased we had a bid and pleased it was a strong bid,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said, noting that while only one proposal was submitted, it is for less than the amount budgeted by the School Board. Due to the special nature or the project and the company’s installation of the first phase, the lack of competition wasn’t surprising. “But if we were uncomfortable with this bid, we would have put it out again.”

School Board members heard two presentations during the meeting about upcoming pilot projects: one will improve Gifted programs for elementary school students, and the other will transform the “first day forms” process into a paperless experience for parents and staff.

The Gifted program improvements will be piloted at Avery Elementary and Macedonia Elementary Schools, with students participating in daily special advanced activities during a personalized learning time in their regular classroom, with all of these students in classrooms led by Gifted-endorsed teachers. This will replace the current model of pulling Gifted students out of all classes for one day a week for special activities.

Chief Academic Officer Dr. Nicole Holmes said the pilot will provide Gifted students with more challenging coursework without missing regular classwork or increasing their workload.

“They’re extremely excited about what could possibly be one of the greatest years we’ve had as far as our Gifted learners,” she said of feedback from students, parents and teachers, who all have been involved in the planning process. If the pilot proves successful, it will be expanded through multiple phases districtwide.

School Board member Patsy Jordan, a former CCSD Gifted-endorsed teacher, praised how the plan improves both teaching and learning opportunities.

“I’m super excited about this – I love this idea,” she said.

The second presentation focused on a pilot to replace paper registration forms with a digital system beginning in December. Mid-year enrollments will test the system, with a planned full launch for the 2018-19 school year.

The system will allow parents to provide CCSD with emergency contacts, required documents and other “first day” information for all of their children online in advance without the need to enter duplicate data. Not only will this save parents time, it also will improve CCSD staff efficiency and the accuracy of recorded information and reduce paper and printing costs.

“It’s painful,” Chief Information Officer Bobby Blount said of the current paper system, noting that much time and thought has been invested in planning the pilot. “We are tackling it through a collaborative effort.”

Dr. Michele Harcarik

The School Board approved monthly personnel recommendations, which included the appointment of a new assistant principal to fill a vacancy at Carmel Elementary School. Dr. Michele Harcarik will bring 17 years of education experience to the position, having served as a teacher and administrator in Florida and Virginia, most recently as an assistant principal in Falls Church, Va.

Thursday night’s meeting was the last to be held at the CCSD Downtown Center in the Historic Canton High School building downtown. The August 17 School Board meeting will be held in the newly constructed Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo Educational Services Facility, which will dedicated the same evening.

The School Board also:

• Recognized Anne Nechvatal of Cherokee High School as the Georgia Library Media Specialist of the Year;

• Approved the renewal of the Partnership Agreement with Special Olympics;

• Approved the final reading of recommended updates to School Board Policies and the establishment of a New Debt Management Policy, which was a suggestion by credit rating agencies to further improve CCSD’s credit rating;

• Approved authorized CCSD School Fundraising Activities for the 2017-18 school year;

• Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;

• Approved the monthly capital outlay projects report; and,

• Approved 2017-18 employee tribunal hearing panel appointments.

School Board Member Mike Chapman was not present for the meeting.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, August 17, 2017

CCSD Students Continue to Excel on Georgia Milestones!

Category : CCSD

Cherokee County School District students again exceeded State averages on the Georgia Milestones End-of-Grade and End-of-Course tests, which measure mastery of Georgia Performance Standards.  CCSD students have exceeded State averages every year since Milestones began three years ago!

Students in Grades 3-8 take Milestones End-of-Grade (EOG) exams every spring in select core subjects; high school students in specific courses take Milestones End-of-Course (EOC) exams (eighth-graders enrolled in the classes for high school credit also take these exams). Parents will receive scores for their children in August.

Results show the percentages of students classified as Beginning, Developing, Proficient or Distinguished Learners; these percentages also include English Language Learners and students who receive Special Education services. Although differing groups of students affect year-to-year change within a grade level, CCSD’s performance improved overall.

Continued exceptional performance on Milestones across grades and subjects shows that our teachers are successfully instructing students in mastering knowledge crucial to career and college readiness. I am so proud of the effort by everyone within our organization in collaboration with our students, their families and our community partners and volunteers to make important achievements like this possible.

New initiatives including the Instructional Framework standards for how teachers design instruction and assess student learning, the Professional Learning Communities groups for teacher collaboration and this coming school year’s introduction of new English Language Arts instructional resources – the first update in more than a decade – show our commitment to even greater success for every child.

For third-grade, the percentage of CCSD students achieving Developing to Distinguished scores was: 88% for Math (80% Georgia) and 79% for English Language Arts (as compared to 70% for Georgia).

For fifth-grade, the percentage of CCSD students achieving Developing to Distinguished scores was: 85% for Math (75% Georgia), 82% for English Language Arts (74% Georgia), 78% for Science (69% Georgia) and 83% for Social Studies (73% Georgia).

For eighth-grade, the percentage of CCSD students achieving Developing to Distinguished scores was: 83% for Math (79% Georgia), 87% for English Language Arts (80% Georgia), 66% for Science (58% Georgia) and 83% for Social Studies (75% Georgia) — these totals do not include eighth-graders in high school credit classes with EOC exams.

The mean scaled scores ranked CCSD in the top 15% of school districts in Georgia for reading across all grades, with middle schoolers in the top 10%, and placed CCSD in the top 10% for elementary school math.

For high school credit courses, the percentage of CCSD students achieving Developing to Distinguished scores was: 91% for 9th Grade Literature and Composition (84% Georgia), 91% for American Literature and Composition (82% for Georgia), 83% for Algebra (70% Georgia), 87% for Geometry (75% Georgia), 82% for Biology (70% Georgia), 80% for Physical Science (67% Georgia), 84% for U.S. History (76% Georgia) and 88% for Economics (72%).  The mean scaled scores for the tests ranked CCSD in the top 15% of school districts in Georgia, with the majority of assessments ranking in the top 10 percent.

As part of our focus on continuous improvement in teaching and learning, District and school leaders will analyze these scores in reviewing instructional strategies and School Improvement Plans. Milestones scores also contribute to the calculation of CCSD’s College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) scores.

Learn More About the Coming School Year in First Day Facts!

Category : CCSD

First Day Facts front page

How many students are expected in CCSD schools this school year?

How many routes will CCSD school buses drive?

How many new teachers will be in the classrooms?

Find the answers to these questions and many more in the 2017-18 First Day Facts publication, which shares new information about the upcoming school year.

Here’s a link to the full report: First Day Facts 2017-18

Change to School Meals Pre-Payment System

Category : CCSD

The Cherokee County School District has changed its school meal pre-payment account system for the 2017-18 school year.

Existing funds in students’ My Payments Plus accounts from last school year have been transferred over to the new K12 Payment Center; students will be able to use these funds when school begins August 1.

Parents must set up an account at to add funds. You will need your child’s student ID (the 5- or 6-digit ID your child uses to buy meals); if you don’t have this ID, the front office of your child’s school can provide it to you.

Parents can use the My Payments Plus mobile app or website as they have in the past to see the balance that was transferred; once your child makes a purchase in the cafeteria, any transferred balance will appear in the new account.

After you set up a new account, you can add money by making secure online payments using a credit or debit card (the new system charges the same 4.75% convenience fee as last school year) or by sending cash or checks to the school at no additional charge. You can deposit money online into multiple student accounts with one payment. Students also can continue to pay with cash at the cash register.

The new system continues popular features such as the ability to check your balance, track your child’s purchases and receive low-balance alerts by email and text.

Parents also are reminded that CCSD participates in the Federal free and reduced-price lunch program, and applications are accepted year-round:

Questions? Please call CCSD School Nutrition at 770-721-8419.

Alert: Construction Traffic in River Ridge Zone

road construction sign

Drivers in the River Ridge Zone will want to plan ahead as area road construction will impact traffic congestion when students return to school on August 1.

Roadwork by the county government is underway on East Cherokee Drive, Highway 5 and Mill Creek Road, with construction to continue through the fall.

The construction is expected to impact traffic around Johnston Elementary School, and may also affect Mill Creek Middle School and River Ridge High School traffic. Students are encouraged to ride their CCSD school bus for transportation.

Website Calendar Upgrade in Progress

Category : CCSD

The calendar feature of our webpage and school pages is being upgraded.  If you need a print version of the 2017-18 school calendar (which will be added back to the calendar button), you can access it here:

2017-18 CCSD Calendar (Print Version)

CCSD School Wins Prestigious Georgia School Bell Award!

OGES logo The Cherokee County School District continues its Georgia School Bell Award-winning streak with Oak Grove Elementary School Fine Arts Academy earning the prestigious honor for 2017!

The Georgia Association of Elementary School Principals presents the distinguished Award to 10 schools in Georgia each year in recognition of outstanding curriculum and organizational leadership initiatives… this is the seventh consecutive year that at least one CCSD school has been honored.

GAESP logo

Oak Grove ES Fine Arts Academy, led by Principal Penny Valle, earned the award for her program, “Anchor Standards.” The selection committee selects exemplary initiatives that result in positive change and demonstrate strong involvement of staff, students, parents and community.

“Anchor Standards” is a school-wide initiative through which teachers identified specific learning goals for each grade level, subject and grading period to be prepared for, tracked and updated through collaboration within Professional Learning Communities teacher groups. Administrators, community partners, volunteers and parents all play a role in the program’s success, and a Data Room provides a place to review results and talk strategy.

Principal Penny Valle

“We continually analyze the impact of prioritizing standards and aligning the targeted content and language objectives to show student mastery of key concepts and skills,” Principal Valle said. “So far, the results indicate significant student achievement growth in math and reading due to the implementation and focus on anchor standards.”

The school will be formally recognized and presented with the Award at the Association’s Fall Principals’ Conference in Savannah, and they will be recognized by the Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools and School Board at the School Board Meeting on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017.

“We’re so proud of Oak Grove and Principal Valle for earning this impressive recognition in honor of their work to continuously improve classroom instruction,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “Digging into data gives our teachers a better understanding of each individual child’s learning needs — where each needs more help or more challenges – and this impressive initiative does just that. Congratulations to the entire school community, as everyone played a role in this success, and their efforts and care are much appreciated!”

Recent past CCSD winners are: 2016, Bascomb ES; 2015, Holly Springs ES STEM Academy and Woodstock ES; 2014, Canton ES STEM Academy; 2013, Free Home ES; 2012, Liberty ES; 2011, Oak Grove ES.