Board Briefs: School Board Reviews Budget – Smaller Class Sizes, Increased Safety & Security

Board Briefs: School Board Reviews Budget – Smaller Class Sizes, Increased Safety & Security

Category : Board Briefs | CCSD

The School Board on Thursday, May 17, 2018, reviewed the Superintendent of Schools’ recommended tentative Annual Budget for 2018-19, which calls for continued reduction in class sizes, greater spending on safety and security measures and no tax rate increase.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower during the School Board’s work session presented the budget, which the Board tabled at its regular meeting, as is routine to allow for further review and three public hearings.  The hearings will be at 11:30 a.m. June 13 and 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. June 21 in the Board’s auditorium, followed by a vote on the budget at the 7 p.m. regular meeting on June 21.

The general fund, which is CCSD’s day-to-day operating budget, will grow to $406 Million for next school year from the current $385 Million, as a result of anticipated student enrollment growth of 750 students, the restoration of the final $4 Million in State “austerity budget cuts,” and a property tax digest that has finally recovered to 2008 pre-Recession levels.

The millage property tax rate is proposed to remain unchanged at 19.45 mills, and the budget calls for retaining $47 Million in reserves.  The building fund budget, which includes voter-approved Education SPLOST construction and technology projects, is planned to total $41 Million.

“We’re certainly thankful,” Chief Financial Officer Ken Owen said, after reporting on the first full “austerity budget cut” restoration since 2002 and the recovery of the Recession’s 30% drop in local property values.  “We’ve finally caught back up.”

The recovered funding is directed primarily back into the classroom, with instructional spending amounting to 67.5% of the operating budget, which overall calls for 87% of all expenditures to pay for personnel costs.  The increased classroom spending will add enough teachers – 55 – to bring average class sizes back to pre-Recession levels – a major priority for School Board Members.

“I really appreciate that you took our priorities and made them come to fruition so they’ll benefit our students,” School Board Chair Kyla Cromer said following the presentation by Dr. Hightower and Mr. Owen.  “That’s huge, and I appreciate it.”

Another significant focus is increased spending on safety and security, with measures funded in the budget including the hiring of an additional three CCSD School Police Department POST-certified police officers and two more school counselors and investing nearly $1 Million in the building fund to expedite construction of security foyers.

Other budget funding priorities include providing longevity step raises and a 1% cost-of-living salary increase to all eligible employees to maintain competitive compensation and bumping the starting teacher salary by $500 to $43,000.  The budget also calls for purchasing 30 school buses to replace older vehicles and hiring additional bus drivers and monitors, and expanding the school nurse and instructional lead strategist teacher coaches programs.

“Our School District is only as good as its employees, and I believe that investing in our people will pay dividends, with the ultimate outcome of student success and achievement,” Dr. Hightower said.

During its work session the School Board also heard a presentation by the independent external auditor, who reported the 2016-17 fiscal year audit received a clean opinion with no new findings or unresolved prior findings.

The School Board also:

  • Recognized the Office of Curriculum & Instruction for its leadership that led to CCSD being named an Innovative District for 2018 by International Center for Leadership in Education – one of only 11 school districts in the National to earn the designation;
  • Recognized CCSD’s 2017-18 Positive Athlete Regional Winners and Scholarship Winners, and State Award winner Woodstock HS senior Trevor Melehan;
  • Recognized Cherokee HS freshman Rebekah Seng, recipient of Congressional Award, Bronze Medal;
  • Recognized CCSD’s 2018 Georgia Scholars;
  • Recognized CCSD’s 2017-18 Governor’s Honors Finalists;
  • Recognized Creekview HS Aeronautics Rocketry Team as National Champions and International Qualifiers (competition is this summer) and its Drone Team as National Qualifiers (competition is this summer), and Creekland MS Aeronautics as National Qualifiers;
  • Recognized Mill Creek MS as a Common Sense Certified School for Digital Citizenship;
  • Recognized Georgia High School Association State and Regional Champions including students and coaches from the Cherokee HS Literary, Creekview HS Girls Lacrosse, Tennis and Soccer and Etowah HS Track & Field teams:
  • Recognized CCSD’s 2018 Aramark Education Scholarship winners;
  • Recognized the 2017-18 Student Advisor to School Board and Student Delegates for their service and commitment and presented each with graduation honor cords;
  • Approved monthly financial reports;
  • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips and professional development;
  • Approved special lease agreements;
  • Approved monthly personnel recommendations; and,
  • Approved the 2018-19 Discipline Code.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, June 21, 2018


Board Briefs: School Board Hears Safety & Security Recommendations, Approves School Calendars

The School Board on Thursday, May 3, 2018, heard the Superintendent of Schools’ recommendations for improving safety and security in CCSD schools and approved three more years of school calendars.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower in February, following the Parkland school shooting, re-established his Ad Hoc Safety and Security Committee, which initially formed after the Sandy Hook school shooting.

“On Valentine’s Day, our hearts again were broken by a tragic school shooting, this time in Florida,” Dr. Hightower said.  “As I shared after Parkland, while I would keep its families in my prayers, I also would take action to ensure the safety of our students, employees and schools.”

Dr. Hightower asked the Cherokee County Sheriff, Chief Marshal, all of Cherokee’s city Police Chiefs, parents and Principals from every one of CCSD’s Innovation Zones and CCSD leaders to serve on the Committee, which was chaired by CCSD School Police Chief Mark Kissel.

Chief Kissel led the Committee through two months of work: visiting schools to evaluate safety measures and practices; reviewing hundreds of suggestions from parents; surveying the School Board’s Student Delegates (high school seniors who represent each of CCSD’s high schools); hearing feedback from an external expert review of CCSD’s safety and security (including Georgia Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Department of Homeland Security personnel); reading up on research and trends; and, finally, together developing recommendations for Dr. Hightower.

“This Committee took the safety and security of our schools very seriously,” Chief Kissel said.

The Committee’s full recommendation report is posted here and includes suggested improvements to how CCSD secures its facilities, protects them with its POST-certified and armed law enforcement officers, trains employees and students on emergency response, and makes sure every student knows to “see something, say something” whether it’s a danger to their school or a classmate crying out for help.

“Some of the recommendations don’t require any expense, while some may take us several years to fully implement, but we’re committed to meeting the goals of every one,” Dr. Hightower said.

The School Board on Thursday approved the next three-year block of school calendars – 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22 – which all follow the longtime “balanced calendar” format popular with students, parents and CCSD employees, and all continue with an August start date and May end date.

In addition to approving future school calendars, the School Board also adjusted next school year’s calendar to accommodate for needed professional development and inclement weather make-up days.  The previously designated Friday, Dec. 21, 2018 school holiday will instead be a regular school day, and Monday, Oct. 8, 2018 (Columbus Day) will become a school holiday for students.  In a one-time adjustment for next school year, the Feb. 20-22, 2019 potential inclement weather make-up days will instead be scheduled as regular school days to be cancelled if make-up days are not needed.

“We are committed to permanently restoring the full week-long February Break beginning with the 2019-20 school year by using our Canvas online learning system when schools close for inclement weather,” Dr. Hightower said.  “This is a big mind-shift for our students, parents and teachers, so we need the next school year to prepare high-quality online lessons and test our capacity for true blended learning.  The last three days of February Break next school year will instead be regular schools days, but these days (Feb. 20-22, 2019) will be cancelled if our winter is mild.”

Dr. Hightower shared a brief budget planning report with the School Board, to keep them up to date as work continues to prepare the recommended budget for presentation later this month.  In order to stay competitive with compensation and starting teacher salaries in other metro Atlanta counties, Dr. Hightower announced plans to give all eligible employees a locally funded 1% raise and increase the starting CCSD’s entry-level educator pay to $43,000 a year.

The School Board also:

  • Recognized 2017-18 Regional Science and Engineering Fair Winners;
  • Recognized Creekview HS as the 2018 Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl High School District, Regional, North Division and State Champion;
  • Recognized CCSD students’ achievement at the Tome Student Literacy Society State Conference/Competition;
  • Recognized Woodstock HS students for winning statewide Technology Student Association honors, junior Greg Carroll for being elected to the Association’s student board and teacher Karen Zayance for being elected to the Association’s Board of Directors;
  • Recognized CCSD’s Georgia PTA Reflections contest winners;
  • Recognized Hickory Flat ES as the 2017-18 Elementary School County Academic Bowl Team Champion;
  • Recognized Dean Rusk MS sixth-grade teacher Lindsey Mason as a National STEM Scholar;
  • Recognized the Cherokee HS girls basketball team as the Region 4-AAAAAAA Champions and State Tournament Elite 8 and Coach Matt Cates as County and Region Coach of the Year;
  • Recognized Etowah HS freshman Sarah Oburu for acceptance into the Disney Dreamers Academy
  • Recognized Cherokee HS senior Sarah Snyder as recipient of the 2018 scholarship from Oak Leaf Church, a CCSD Partner;
  • Approved a new Partnership Agreement with Berry College;
  • Approved a resolution and purchase agreement for the sale of bonds for Education SPLOST projects;
  • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips and professional development;
  • Approved special lease agreements;
  • Approved monthly personnel recommendations;
  • Approved proposal from ABM (American Building Maintenance) Industry Groupto serve as CCSD’s custodial services provider for the next school year beginning July 1, after reviewing an evaluation report produced by staff as part of the request for proposals committee’s process; and,
  • Met in Executive Session to discuss a student disciplinary matter.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 17, 2018 (Strategic Work Session at 6 p.m.)


Board Briefs: School Board Appoints New School Leaders, Mill Creek MS Classroom Addition

Valerie Lowery

The School Board on Thursday, April 19, 2018, approved the appointment of new School District and school leaders for next school year and a voter-supported classroom addition at Mill Creek Middle School.

After approving Principal appointments last month, the School Board moved on to naming Assistant Principals to vacancies created by some of these moves, as well as any other leadership roles still to be filled for next school year.

“We’re very proud of all these leaders – those who’ve grown with us, stars we’ve stolen from other school districts and those who’ve left us and who we stole back,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said as he introduced the new leaders, noting all of the promoted leaders from within CCSD have completed his Superintendent’s Leadership Academy development program.  “We try to give lots of experiences to our teacher-leaders to get them ready to be Assistant Principals.”

LaToya Gray

One Principal appointment was on the agenda, as a result of Boston Elementary School Principal Izell McGruder moving into a new role as an administrator in the Office of Curriculum & Instruction overseeing English for Speakers of Other Languages programs.

His post at Boston ES will be filled by Valerie Lowery, who is an Assistant Principal at Canton ES STEM Academy.  She has 21 years of experience as a teacher, media specialist, academic coach and administrator — all with CCSD, where she also attended school herself as a child before earning her bachelor, master and specialist degrees.

The School Board also appointed LaToya Gray as supervisor for special education.  Currently Principal of Summit Hills ES in Fulton County, Ms. Gray has 18 years of experience, including previously serving with CCSD as a special education facilitator and speech language pathologist.

Additional CCSD and school leadership changes as a result of Thursday’s appointments include:

Dr. Catherine Head

Erica Morrie

Brett Pinckard

Justin Sanderson

Jennifer Jones

Christy Rich

Lori Etheridge

Denna Vance

Donald Garner

Dr. Julie Dutko

Wesley Satterfield

Ann Jordan

  • Dr. Catherine Head as Coordinator of Curriculum (currently Little River ES Instructional Lead Strategist);
  • Maria Rosario-Regan as Curriculum & Instruction – Title 1 Administrator (currently Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy Assistant Principal);
  • Lyn Turnell as Curriculum & Instruction – Student Assessment Administrator (currently Etowah HS Assistant Principal);
  • Tonya Sebring as School Operations – Administrator (currently Woodstock HS Assistant Principal);
  • Erica Morrie as Carmel ES Assistant Principal (currently Woodstock ES teacher);
  • Elizabeth Spell as Cherokee HS Assistant Principal (currently Teasley MS Assistant Principal);
  • Jonathan Hall as Clark Creek ES STEM Academy Assistant Principal (currently Woodstock ES Assistant Principal);
  • Brett Pinckard as Etowah HS Assistant Principal (currently River Ridge HS teacher);
  • Justin Sanderson as Etowah HS Assistant Principal (currently Etowah HS Teacher on Special Assignment (TSA));
  • Jennifer Jones as Etowah HS Assistant Principal (currently Cherokee HS teacher);
  • Christy Rich as Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy Assistant Principal (currently Curriculum & Instruction TSA);
  • Jillian Nichols as Little River ES Assistant Principal (currently Clark Creek ES Assistant Principal);
  • Lori Etheridge as Mountain Road ES Assistant Principal (currently Mountain Road ES TSA);
  • Denna Vance as R.M. Moore ES Assistant Principal (currently R.M. Moore ES TSA);
  • Lauren Roach as R.M. Moore ES Assistant Principal (currently Canton ES Assistant Principal);
  • Donald Garner as Sequoyah HS Assistant Principal (currently CCSD special education facilitator);
  • Julie Peppers as Sixes ES Assistant Principal (currently Carmel ES Assistant Principal);
  • Dr. Julie Dutko as Teasley MS Assistant Principal (currently Holly Springs ES STEM Academy instructional lead strategist);
  • Wesley Satterfield as Tippens Education Center Assistant Principal (currently support and service administrator at Blackwell ES in Cobb County);
  • Ann Jordan as Woodstock ES Assistant Principal (currently Johnston ES instructional lead strategist);
  • Megan Biello as Woodstock HS Assistant Principal (currently Cherokee HS Assistant Principal);
  • Lee Davis as Clark Creek ES STEM Academy TSA (currently Indian Knoll ES instructional lead strategist); and,
  • Kim Barger as Ralph Bunche Center TSA (currently CCSD special education facilitator).

The School Board on Thursday also selected the contractor to build a voter-approved classroom addition at Mill Creek Middle School.

The $7.4 million project will be funded by Education SPLOST revenues, as overwhelmingly approved by voters in the 2016 renewal, with funding also coming from the State of Georgia, as the school’s growth earned construction dollars for CCSD.  The proposal from Womack, Lewis & Smith selected by the School Board came in under the $8 Million budget.

Construction on the two-story addition will take 24 months beginning this summer and includes 24 classrooms and a global learning theatre.

Dr. Hightower also shared with the School Board an update on his Ad Hoc Safety & Security Committee, noting he would, at the May 3 Board meeting, present recommendations from the Committee and information on the financial impact should the improvements be approved in next school year’s budget.

As part of Waste Management of Metro Atlanta, Inc.’s Partnership Agreement with CCSD, the company awards one $5,000 scholarship to a graduating senior from a CCSD high school each year. The designated school rotates annually; the Class of 2018 school is Cherokee High School, and the winner is Haley Hutchison. Celebrating the scholarship at Thursday’s School Board meeting are, from left to right, front row: Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, Marla Prince of Waste Management, Cherokee HS senior Haley Hutchison, School Board Member Patsy Jordan; back row: School Board Vice Chair Mike Chapman, School Board Members Rick Steiner and John Harmon and School Board Student Advisor Ashlee Floyd of Cherokee HS.

The School Board also:

  • Announced longtime Etowah HS PE teacher and renowned coach Rob Graner as the new girls basketball head coach, and the hiring of Regina Tate-Leslie, a successful coach and AP science and math teacher, who is joining Woodstock HS as a teacher and girls basketball head coach;
  • Recognized Woodstock HS Principal Mark Smith as the Georgia Library Media Association’s Distinguished Administrator of the Year;
  • Recognized Cherokee HS Principal Todd Miller as The Georgia Forensics Coaches Association’s Distinguished Administrator of the Year;
  • Recognized Clark Creek ES STEM Academy Teacher Teresa Bailey as Georgia’s 2018 International Technology and Engineering Educators Association Elementary Teacher Excellence Award winner;
  • Recognized CCSD Counselor of the Year Rod Metcalf of Woodstock MS and the Innovation Zone Counselors of the Year;
  • Recognized Sixes ES media specialist Elizabeth Wall as a Common Sense Media Educator;
  • Recognized Etowah HS freshman Sarah Oburu for acceptance into the Disney Dreamers Academy;
  • Recognized CCSD 2018 Spelling Bee winners and their Region and State Bee success;
  • Recognized CCSD Elementary School and Middle School Reading Bowl first-place winners: Indian Knoll ES and Mill Creek MS;
  • Recognized Cherokee HS Speech and Debate Team members as 2018 National Speech and Debate Tournament qualifiers;
  • Recognized CCSD Region and State Technology Fair winners;
  • Recognized Sequoyah HS senior Spencer Mann and sophomore Jacob Allred for placing at the Georgia SkillsUSA Automotive Technology Competition;
  • Recognized Creekview HS and Woodstock HS students for Georgia 4-H achievements;
  • Recognized State and Regional Champions: Creekview HS literary team Region champs; Sequoyah HS literary team Region and State champs; and Etowah HS boys basketball team Region champs;
  • Recognized Cherokee HS senior Haley Hutchison as recipient of 2018 Pine Bluff Landfill/Waste Management Scholarship for $5,000;
  • Approved the renewal of a Partnership Agreement with Bethesda Community Clinic;
  • Approved monthly financial reports;
  • Approved preparation, pricing and marketing for the sale of bonds for Education SPLOST projects;
  • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips and professional development;
  • Approved special lease agreements; and,
  • Met in Executive Session to discuss personnel and student disciplinary matters.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 3, 2018


Board Briefs: School Board Approves New Principals, Turf Installation

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Category : Board Briefs | CCSD

March 15, 2018: Regular Meeting

 

The School Board on Thursday, March 15, 2018, approved the appointment of new Principals for next school year and the voter-supported installation of artificial turf at all high schools.

 

Two high schools will see new Principals for next school year: River Ridge HS and Sequoyah HS, as both Principal Darrell Herring and Elliott Berman are retiring.

 

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower announced Principal Herring’s retirement at the meeting, thanking him for outstanding service to CCSD for the last 11 years.

 

“Mr. Herring successfully opened a new high school for us with River Ridge, and that’s no easy feat,” Dr. Hightower said.  “We know he’s made a positive difference in the lives of thousands of students.”

photo of Kerry Martin

Dr. Kerry Martin, River Ridge HS Principal for 2018-19

Mr. Herring will be succeeded at River Ridge HS by Dr. Kerry Martin, the current Principal at neighboring Mill Creek MS, past Principal at Arnold Mill ES and a past Teacher of the Year who brings 28 years of education experience to the role.

 

Mr. Berman, whose retirement was announced earlier this year, will be succeeded at Sequoyah HS by Robert Van Alstyne.  Mr. Van Alstyne, with 19 years of experience, has served the last nine years as an Assistant Principal, and, in his current post at Etowah HS, earned the 7A State Athletic Director of the Year honor and twice won the regional award.

Photo of Bob Van Alstyne

Robert Van Alstyne, Principal of Sequoyah HS for 2018-19

As a result of Dr. Martin’s move from Mill Creek MS, her Principal post there will be filled by Matthew May, currently Assistant Principal at Sequoyah High School.  A past Teacher of the Year, Mr. May has 16 years of experience and has served the last two years in his role at Sequoyah HS.

photo of Matthew May

Matthew May, Principal of Mill Creek MS for 2018-19

Dr. Hightower on Thursday also announced the retirement of longtime educator Cathy Elliott, past Principal at Macedonia ES who currently serves as a staffing director in CCSD’s Human Resources division.

 

“Ms. Elliott has shared her exceptional talents with us for the last leg of her 36-year career in public education, and we are so appreciative of all that she has done to support our students, staff and schools,” he said.

 

Ms. Elliott will be succeeded by Amy Graham, currently the Principal at Johnston ES, who has worked for 19 years in education including as a classroom teacher and an Assistant Principal at Creekland MS and Teasley MS.

photo of amy graham

Amy Graham, Staffing Director

As a result of Ms. Graham’s move, her Principal post at Johnston ES will be filled by Laura Akers, an Assistant Principal at Little River ES and past Teacher of the Year at Liberty ES with 19 years of experience.

photo of Laura Akers

Laura Akers, Principal of Johnston ES for 2018-19

Victoria Thom, a 32-year educator, will advance from Assistant Principal of CCSD’s Preschool Centers to the Principal post with the retirement announced earlier this year of Principal Donna Adams.  Ms. Thom’s long career has included teaching in CCSD classrooms and serving as an Assistant Principal at schools including Liberty ES and Mountain Road ES.

photo of Victoria Thom

Victoria Thom, Principal of CCSD Preschool Centers.

Kim Montalbano, Principal at Woodstock ES, will be moving to Indian Knoll ES following the retirement of Principal Dr. Ann Gazell announced earlier this year.  Ms. Montalbano’s Principal post at Woodstock ES will be filled by Matthew Freedman, Principal of Park Street Elementary School in Marietta.

photo of matt freedman

Matt Freedman, Principal of Woodstock ES for 2018-19.

Dr. Hightower said Mr. Freedman’s impressive results at the 100% Title I school included significantly increasing student performance, improving student behavior, adding STEM education and engaging community partners… making him a “great catch” for CCSD and Woodstock ES.

 

The School Board next month will appoint Assistant Principals to vacancies created by some of these moves, as well as any other leadership roles still to be filled for next school year.

 

The long-awaited installation of artificial turf at all of CCSD’s high schools was unanimously approved by the School Board.  The $4.9 Million contract with Sports Turf, Inc./AstroTurf will be funded using Education SPLOST revenues, as overwhelmingly approved by voters in the 2016 Ed SPLOST renewal.  The installation will replace grass at five schools and outdated turf funded by community donations at Etowah High School.  Through this installation, CCSD will avoid significant annual maintenance costs and will increase safety for players, while also evening the playing field for our student athletes in competitive divisions.

 

The School Board unanimously approved the sale of the CCSD Downtown Center (Historic Canton High School), the last building CCSD still owned in downtown Canton, to the City of Canton for $2.5 Million.

 

Dr. Hightower also presented a brief report on his Ad Hoc Safety and Security Committee, which was formed following the Sandy Hook school shooting and which he asked to begin meeting again following the Parkland tragedy last month.

 

The Committee is made up of CCSD and school leaders; the county’s sheriff, marshal, municipal police chiefs and additional leaders from local law enforcement; and parents representing each Innovation Zone who are graduates of CCSD’s VILLA parent academy.  He has tasked the group with reviewing CCSD’s current safety and security levels and making recommendations to him, prior to the development of next year’s budget, for possible improvements.

 

School Board Vice Chair Mike Chapman said he appreciates Dr. Hightower’s responsiveness and involvement of local law enforcement leaders and parents.

 

“Our School District and this School Board will continue to be proactive and transparent in our response to safety and security concerns,” Mr. Chapman said, noting the District does this without any financial support from the State.  “This is too important an issue for our community not to take care of on our own, even if the State is shirking its financial and ethical responsibility.”

 

The School Board also:

  • Recognized Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy as a Georgia High-Progress Reward School;
  • Recognized Sequoyah High School senior Victoria “Tori” Turk as recipient of Georgia Thespians’ 2018 Outstanding Student Achievement Award;
  • Recognized Sequoyah High School Speech and Debate Team as 2018 National Speech and Debate Tournament qualifiers;
  • Recognized 2017-18 STAR Students and STAR Teachers;
  • Recognized CCSD students selected for All-State Band, Chorus, Orchestra and Reading Chorus;
  • Recognized 2017-18 Middle School County Academic Bowl Team champions from Creekland Middle School;
  • Recognized Woodstock Elementary School as a Common Sense Certified School for Digital Citizenship;
  • Recognized Cherokee County School District Middle School Basketball Tournament Champions;
  • Recognized State and Regional Champions from Creekview HS wrestling and competition cheer teams and Sequoyah HS swim team members;
  • Recognized Cherokee County School District Library Media Specialists of the Year;
  • Recognized School Board Members During School Board Member Appreciation Week;
  • Approved the renewal of a Partnership Agreement with the United Way of Greater Atlanta;
  • Adopted a resolution supporting the City of Woodstock’s annexation of the Woodstock MS/HS campus in order to provide services including inclement weather road clearing;
  • Approved the School Board’s application for the Georgia School Boards Association’s (GSBA) Quality Board recognition;
  • Approved the naming of School Board Member Robert Rechsteiner as delegate to GSBA’s Delegate Assembly;
  • Approved monthly financial reports;
  • Approved transferring the CCSD School Police Department’s K9 canine through an intergovernmental agreement to the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office and the sale of K9 program equipment to interested buyers;
  • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips and professiosnal development;
  • Approved special lease agreements; and,
  • Met in Executive Session to discuss student disciplinary matters.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 19, 2018


Board Briefs: School Board Begins Annual Leadership Hiring Process

The School Board on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, began its annual leadership hiring process with the approval of the Superintendent of Schools’ recommendations to fill two central administration vacancies.

With its approval of the Superintendent’s monthly personnel recommendations, the Board appointed Dr. Shannon Carroll as the new Supervisor for Instructional Technology and Rocky Simpson as the new Coordinator of Maintenance.  With these approvals, the Board next month can proceed with approving recommendations for Principal openings, and, in April, approve appointments for Assistant Principals and any other subsequently vacant leadership positions.

“Both of these appointments add more depth to our leadership strength,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said of Dr. Carroll and Simpson.  “Shannon, in her current role as a curriculum coordinator, has been a critical resource for STEM instruction, and we know she will expertly guide our use of classroom technology.  We’re so proud of Rocky, who’s a graduate of Cherokee High, for coming back to us after college to use his expertise to support our schools.”

Dr. Carroll joined CCSD in 1993 as a teacher and, after a classroom career that included twice earning her school’s Teacher of the Year title, moved into District leadership roles in curriculum and professional development.  Mr. Simpson joined CCSD in 2002 after earning his degree from Kennesaw State University.

The School Board also:

• Recognized Holly Springs ES STEM Academy as a Microsoft Showcase School;

• Recognized CCSD as the recipient of the National Employer Support of the Guard

and Reserve Patriotic Employer Award;

• Recognized Carmel ES teacher Merry Willis and Holly Springs ES STEM Academy teacher Lisa Lougheed as Global Minecraft Mentors;

• Recognized Woodstock HS economics teacher Josh Sailers as the 2018 Georgia Economics Teacher of the Year;

• Recognized E.T. Booth Middle School as a Common Sense Certified School for Digital Citizenship;

• Recognized the Woodstock ES FIRST Lego League (FLL) Robotics Team as first-place winners in Core Values for Team Work at the State finals and as Super Regionals champions;

• Recognized Sequoyah High School junior Hanna Palmer for being elected to the 2018-2019 Georgia DECA State Executive Officer Team;

• Recognized State and Regional Champions from the Etowah High School wrestling team;

• Approved a resolution recognizing March 1, 2018 as “PTA Day in the Cherokee County School District”;

• Adopted International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards for students and educators;

• Approved the renewal of Partnership Agreements with Aramark Management Services, Cherokee County Historical Society and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society;

• Approved month

ly financial reports;

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

• Approved special lease agreements; and,

• Met in Executive Session to discuss personnel, real estate and student disciplinary matters.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, March 15, 2018


Board Briefs: School Board Hears First Report on 2018-19 Budget

The School Board on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, heard its first report on anticipated revenue for the 2018-19 budget, including expectations that the State will continue withholding $4 Million as an “austerity budget cut” as recommended by Gov. Deal and further increase costs to school districts for providing employees with mandated health and retirement benefits.

These three factors will create a $7.8 Million negative impact on the School District’s operating budget, according to Chief Financial Officer Ken Owen.  If the School Board approves a longevity step increase in employee salaries, that will cost an additional $6.6 Million… totaling $14.4 Million, which will use up nearly all revenue gains as a result of enrollment growth and anticipated improvements in local property values.

Facing a potential net new revenue of $1.5 Million or less, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said the District likely will have to postpone non-essential new hiring and any new initiatives and will be unable to make significant reductions in class size.

“We continue to feel a painful pinch from ‘austerity budget cuts,’ despite the State government’s financial recovery and increases in its ‘rainy day’ reserve fund,” Dr. Hightower said.  “While we’d rather not also be burdened with the State’s cost-shifting for the State Health Benefit Plan and Teachers Retirement System, we had hoped the State – at a minimum – would fully restore the education funding we earn under the State’s own formula.  While the Governor’s budget does not call for the end of this ‘austerity,’ we have again asked our Legislative Delegation and our community to lobby on our behalf as it is again our School Board’s No. 1 Legislative Priority.”

The Superintendent then officially began the District’s budget development process by asking the Board members to provide him by next month with their proposed budget priorities.  These priorities will be reviewed by the Superintendent and his budget committee, as they begin drafting the budget that will be presented to the Board in May.

The Superintendent and Board on Thursday also discussed the number of days missed by students so far this month due to inclement weather, which at the time of the meeting was three days, but rose to four with today’s closing.  As a Strategic Waiver School System, the School District has a waiver from State mandates for required school days, but the decision as to whether to make up missed days due to inclement weather is left to the Superintendent and School Board.  All staff are required to make up missed days of work.

Dr. Hightower said he would meet with his senior staff the next morning to review options and promptly share his recommendation with Board members to hear any concerns from them before announcing the plan to parents and employees as soon as Monday.

The Board, in approving the monthly personnel recommendations on Thursday night, accepted the retirement of CCSD Preschool Centers Principal Donna Adams.  A longtime educator, Ms. Adams joined CCSD in 1982 as a teacher and has served in her current role since 2011.

“She’s a wonderful educator, and we deeply appreciate the exceptional service and great care she has given to our community’s children and families,” Dr. Hightower said of Ms. Adams, who received a standing ovation.

The recommendations also included the transfer of Principal Dr. Abigail “Abby” May from Canton Elementary School STEM Academy to R.M. Moore Elementary School for next school year.

Canton Elementary will be temporarily closed to allow Cherokee High School the use of its campus beginning next school year; the elementary school’s students will be split between R.M. Moore and Knox Elementary Schools.  Jan Adamson, Principal of R.M. Moore ES, had previously announced her retirement at the end of this school year.

“We wanted to make this appointment as soon as we could,” Dr. Hightower said of Dr. May.  “The School Council at R.M. Moore has met her with open arms, and we’re ready for her to start doing the critical planning for this transition.”

The Board held its annual Vice Chair election on Thursday night, and Board member Mike Chapman was re-elected to another one-year term in this role.

The School Board also:

• Approved the renewal of a Partnership Agreement with the Cherokee County Arts Council;

• Adopted the Georgia Education Coalition (GEC) 2018 Legislative Priorities;

• Approved monthly financial reports; and,

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

• School Board Member Clark Menard was not present for the meeting.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, February 15, 2018


Board Briefs: School Board Approves Plan to Relieve Cherokee HS Overcrowding

The School Board on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, approved a plan to relieve Cherokee High School overcrowding by using the neighboring Canton Elementary campus.

The unanimous vote followed several months of public input meetings to hear from the community, which informed the recommendation presented to the School Board by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower.

“These are kids that we love.  These are teachers we respect,” Dr. Hightower told the School Board as it prepared to vote.  “This is really the first tough decision in regard to attendance areas that we’ve had to make in recent years.”

Dr. Hightower earlier this school year announced that while Cherokee High School doesn’t meet “critically overcrowded” standards due to mobile classrooms and other solutions already in place, more significant action was needed to relieve the campus.

The plan approved by the School Board will expand Cherokee High School for next school year to include the neighboring Canton Elementary School STEM Academy campus.  The plan not only will alleviate overcrowding at Cherokee HS, but also will reduce CCSD operating costs by $1.5 Million over five years.

Canton ES STEM Academy students will be consolidated into Knox Elementary and R.M. Moore Elementary Schools, which both offer plenty of capacity to accommodate more students (520 students will move R.M. Moore ES, and 270 to Knox ES).  The District will make both campuses STEM Academies; R.M. Moore ES will retain its Title I services that support schools with higher populations of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch (while Knox ES will not see enough of a demographic shift to qualify as Title I, students in need will continue to receive extra services).  The entire proposal approved Thursday is online here.

While some Canton ES STEM Academy parents and teachers lobbied for a plan to keep the school intact, that plan would have increased operating costs without a funding source, which Board members said made the decision all the more challenging.

“We did not take this lightly.  We have looked at every single option,” School Board member Patsy Jordan said, speaking directly to a group of Canton ES STEM Academy teachers in the audience.  “Just remember that the love and grace you have for those kids, that will be the winner in the end.”

Now that the Board has selected a plan, Dr. Hightower said his staff will begin meeting with staff at the affected schools (he has committed that all staff will remain CCSD employees, noting enrollment is up and continues to rise) and map out a timeline and all actions steps needed in order to complete the project for an August opening with the new configuration.

Dr. Hightower also repeated his pledge that this plan is a “phase one” of a larger effort to solve overcrowding for Cherokee High School, which ultimately will require construction of an additional high school.

While that estimated $70 Million-plus construction project is not feasible until the next Education SPLOST referendum in 2021 due to borrowing constraints, Dr. Hightower said his staff will explore renovations that could be made to the Cherokee High School campus once the school begins using Canton ES and moves mobile classrooms offsite.

The Board heard the Superintendent’s recommendation that students not be required to make up the three days missed so far due to inclement weather, to which there was no objection.  Employees are required to make up missed work time, and information now will be shared with them about that process.

The Board on Thursday also approved a new Partnership Agreement with the Atlanta Braves Baseball Club that includes many exciting opportunities, such as bringing baseball into the classroom to teach STEM concepts and bringing high school sports marketing and sports medicine students to SunTrust Park to learn about possible careers.

“We know a lot of our fans come from Cherokee County, so we’re really looking forward to working with the School District, students and staff,” Braves Director of Community Affairs Ericka Newsome Hill said.

The Board, in approving the monthly personnel recommendations on Thursday night, accepted the retirements of three longtime principals: Jan Adamson of R.M. Moore Elementary School, Elliott Berman of Sequoyah High School and Dr. Ann Gazell of Indian Knoll Elementary School.

“We have been very privileged to have them as leaders,” Dr. Hightower said.

Following approval of the personnel recommendations, Dr. Hightower also introduced his new Executive Administrative Assistant, Renée Coleman, a 19-year CCSD employee, whose previous roles have included administrative assistant to the Assistant Superintendent of School Operations and the Deputy Superintendent.

Dr. Hightower also was granted approval by the Board to serve as a Superintendent Consultant/Education Fellow for the Education Research & Development Institute, an opportunity extended to select superintendents to gain their input on research and trends in education.

The School Board also:

• Recognized Clayton ES, Woodstock MS, Sequoyah HS and Bascomb ES for CCRPI Progress and Achievement awards;

• Recognized Knox ES as a Common Sense Certified School for Digital Citizenship;

• Recognized CCSD Lead Nurse Jami Stefano as a finalist for the March of Dimes 2017 Georgia Nurse of the Year Awards;

• Recognized the 2017-18 Reinhardt University/CCSD Mathematics Tournament winners;

• Recognized State and Regional Champions from Creekview HS for Softball and Cross Country, Etowah HS for Softball and Volleyball and Sequoyah HS for One Act Play;

• Approved the renewal of a Partnership Agreement with the Cherokee Soccer Association

• Approved monthly financial reports;

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

• Approved a resolution to certify the closeout of construction for the new Dean Rusk MS;

• Approved special lease agreements;

• Dr. Hightower announced that no bids were submitted meeting the Board’s minimum price for the sale of the Downtown Center at Historic Canton High School.  As a result, CCSD will retain the building and use it for the Special Education department, which currently is housed at the former Buffington Elementary School;

• Heard a presentation on the CHOICE program, a Special Education Department program to assist at-risk high school seniors in graduating on time by providing them with additional support and resources.  The program, which began in 2013-14, has been expanded annually and, last year, boasted a 98% success rate;

• Heard a presentation on plans to begin Course Extension, a new program to allow high school students who fail a unit and, as a result, fail a class and jeopardize graduating on time, to retake that unit using an individualized online course, during a 10-day period.  This new opportunity allows students to pass a class without needing to retake the entire class over nine or 18 weeks.  The program will begin in January, both before and after school, for select students (initially, 50 at each high school) in seven different literature, social studies and math classes.  The cost will be $40 per student per unit, with hardship waivers available; and,

• Met in Executive Session to review three student discipline cases.

• School Board Member Rick Steiner was not present for the meeting.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, January 18, 2018


School Board Hears from Parents on Cherokee HS Overcrowding

The School Board on Thursday, November 16, 2017, heard from five parents during a public hearing on potential solutions to overcrowding at Cherokee High School.

The hearing, which was attended by a small crowd of parents and teachers, followed two rounds of community meetings to gather input in response to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower’s decision to trigger an Attendance Area Review process.

“This is really a phase-one piece of a multi-year plan,” Dr. Hightower said of addressing overcrowding at Cherokee HS.  “While we have only seen an increase of 50 students this fall over last year’s enrollment, infrastructure continues to be severely taxed… and enrollment is expected to continue to grow north of 3,000 – sooner than later.”

While Cherokee HS doesn’t meet the “critically overcrowded” standards due to mobile classrooms and other fixes already in place, Dr. Hightower announced earlier this year he would ask the School Board at its Dec. 14 meeting to approve a mitigation plan to take effect next school year.

The process began with a dozen possible solutions, including those as far-reaching as countywide redistricting, which have been narrowed through public input and staff review.  Parents at Thursday’s hearing spoke only to two of those solutions:

Option 1. Cherokee HS expands to include the neighboring Canton ES STEM Academy campus; Canton ES STEM Academy students are consolidated into Knox ES and R.M. Moore ES, with STEM programs added to both of those campuses and R.M. Moore ES retaining Title I services (while Knox ES will not see enough of a demographic shift to qualify as Title I, students in need will continue to receive extra services).  This option will reduce CCSD operating costs by $1.5 Million over five years.

Option 2. Cherokee HS expands to include Canton ES STEM Academy campus; Canton ES STEM Academy students relocate to the ACE Academy campus (the 30-year-old Teasley MS building on Knox Bridge Highway); ACE Academy students move to the former Tippens ES (50-year-old building on Glenwood Street in Canton, which will need significant renovations before that move can occur).  This option will increase CCSD operating costs by $3.49 Million next year, and $5.1 Million over five years.

Five parents spoke at Thursday’s Public Input Session, with two favoring Option 1; a husband and wife favoring Option 2; and one focusing on the need to build a new Cherokee High School as soon as possible.

“To think of any other scenario is not feasible,” parent Andy Slanina said of Option 1, adding that he would like to see the savings generated by the plan used to make further improvements to Cherokee HS until a new campus is constructed.

Donnamarie Alcott also said she sees Option 1 as the “only logical and fiscally responsible option.”

Two parents, Kurt and Alexandra Stark, spoke to their desire to see Canton ES STEM Academy stay intact under Option 2, to preserve its strong sense of community.

Parent Jonathan Kessler spoke to the need for the School Board to build a new high school instead of continuing with temporary “Band-aids.”

Dr. Hightower said he is committed to doing just that — as soon as funding is available.  Due to aggressive school construction over the last 15 years in response to Cherokee’s population explosion, CCSD does not have the borrowing capacity to build a new high school, which would cost at least $70 Million, until after the 2021 Education SPLOST renewal at the earliest.

The Cherokee Innovation Zone during those 15 years received $140 Million in new construction including the replacement Canton ES, Hasty ES, Knox ES, Liberty ES and the replacement Teasley MS, a classroom addition at R.M. Moore ES and two rounds of improvements to Cherokee HS since 2002 that alone total nearly $15 Million.

Melissa Whatley

The Board also approved monthly personnel recommendations on Thursday that included recognizing the retirement of longtime employees Joy Mabrey, who began teaching in 1953 and later managed the teacher resource center, and Debbie Childress, who is retiring as Supervisor of Instructional Technology after 42 years as an educator.  The appointment of Melissa Whatley, longtime Executive Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent, to Coordinator of Human Resources Services, was approved as well.

The School Board also:

  • Recognized Woodstock High School for earning State STEM Certification;
  • Recognized Cherokee High school Senior Emily Costello for achieving a perfect ACT score;
  • Recognized CCSD School Nutrition for winning the Georgia Golden Radish Award – Platinum Level for practices in support of Farm to School initiatives;
  • Recognized CCSD Teacher of the Year Stephanie Vidrine of Woodstock Middle School;
  • Recognized Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy Teacher Karen Garland for being named the Georgia Conservation Teacher of the Year;
  • Recognized River Ridge High School Career Pathways teacher Judi Haggerty for being selected for a State leadership program;
  • Recognized the Creekview High School Army JROTC program as State Champions at the Georgia State Raider Championship;
  • Recognized CCSD staff for Georgia School Public Relations Association (GSPRA) Publication Awards;
  • Recognized State and Regional Champions from Cherokee High School’s Varsity Softball team and Etowah High School’s One Act Play cast and crew;
  • Approved the renewal of a Partnership Agreement with the Cherokee County Board of Elections & Registration;
  • Approved monthly financial reports;
  • Approved surplus of Police Department property;
  • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;
  • Approved 2017-18 School Improvement Plans;
  • Approved special lease agreements;
  • Approved 2018 Legislative Partnership Priorities; and,
  • Approved annual update of Five-Year Strategic Plan.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, December 14, 2017.


Board Briefs: School Board Hears Update on Cherokee HS Overcrowding

The School Board on Thursday, October 19, 2017, heard an update on meetings gathering community feedback on potential overcrowding mitigation plans for Cherokee High School.

While the campus doesn’t meet CCSD’s definition of “critically overcrowded” due to solutions already implemented, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said he’s committed to asking for the School Board’s approval in December of a plan for alleviating overcrowding beginning next school year.

The School District held a first round of Attendance Area Focus Group meetings in the Cherokee Innovation Zone earlier this month, with two follow-up meetings scheduled for next week (7 p.m. Oct. 25 and 26 at Cherokee HS) to provide detailed information in response to parent questions.

Three plans were reviewed with parents at those meetings, the details of which are posted online here; a fourth possibility floated by Canton ES STEM Academy parents also will be examined at next week’s meetings.

“We don’t necessarily like any of these plans because they affect students and staff who haven’t done anything other than keep waking up to go to school each day,” Dr. Hightower said.  “No matter what plan we choose, it will be a change for some of our students and staff.  What we’re tasked with is finding the plan that has the least negative impact on our programs, operations and budget.”

The three plans presented by staff so far are:

1. Cherokee HS expands to include the neighboring Canton ES STEM Academy campus; Canton ES STEM Academy students are consolidated into Knox ES and R.M. Moore ES, with STEM programs added to both of those campuses and R.M. Moore ES retaining Title I services (while Knox ES will not see enough of a demographic shift to qualify as Title I, students in need will continue to receive extra services).

2. Cherokee HS expands to include Canton ES STEM Academy; Canton ES STEM Academy students relocate to the ACE Academy campus (the 30-year-old Teasley MS building on Knox Bridge Highway); ACE Academy students move to the former Tippens ES (30-plus-year-old building on Glenwood Street in Canton, which will need significant renovations before that move can occur).

3. Cherokee HS splits, with ninth-graders relocated to the ACE Academy campus; ACE Academy students move to the former Tippens ES.
Under all three plans, no CCSD staff would be reduced despite some potential consolidation, as due to retirements and enrollment growth districtwide, new hiring is needed every year.

The fourth possibility suggested by some Canton ES STEM Academy parents also calls for Cherokee HS to expand to include Canton ES STEM Academy, with Canton ES STEM Academy students relocating to the ACE Academy campus.  But under this plan, ACE Academy — which serves students expelled from CCSD’s traditional high schools, as well as some who choose the program for its “work-at-your-own-pace” schedule -– would share the Canton ES STEM Academy building with the Cherokee HS freshmen.

Dr. Hightower emphasized Thursday night that the Cherokee Innovation Zone has received a lion’s share of CCSD construction funding over the last 15 years, totaling $140 Million, including construction of the replacement Canton ES, Hasty ES, Knox ES, Liberty ES and the replacement Teasley MS, a classroom addition at R.M. Moore ES and two rounds of improvements to Cherokee HS since 2002 that alone total nearly $15 Million.

“We have not ignored the Cherokee Zone in the past nor are we going to in the future,” Dr. Hightower said.  “What we’re talking about now is a necessary stop-gap – we remain committed to building a new high school to serve north Cherokee.  We now have the property to do it in Ball Ground or in Sutallee, and we also would love to find some land between Cherokee High and Woodstock.  What we need is the $70-plus Million to build the school, which due to aggressive school construction for the last 20 years to keep up with explosive growth, we won’t be able to borrow for another six years when our community renews the Education SPLOST.”

Dr. Hightower noted that, depending on the plan approved by the School Board, there may be opportunities to renovate and expand portions of the Cherokee High School campus while it’s still occupied… which can’t occur now due to the lack of available open space unused by portables or as parking for staff and students.

The School Board also:

• Recognized Woodstock HS senior Katherine Relick for achieving a perfect ACT Score;
• Recognized CCSD high school seniors named 2018 National Merit Semi-Finalists;
• Recognized Woodstock HS junior Anna Fournaris and Creekland MS seventh-grader Brayden Fuentes for being named to the State School Superintendent’s 2017-18 Student Advisory Council;
• Recognized Clayton ES PE teacher Anne Cross as State “Fire Up Your Feet” award and grant winner;
• Approved a proclamation in honor of Retired Educators Day;
• Approved the renewal of Partnership Agreements with Brenau University, Cherokee Chorale, Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, Inc., North Central Georgia Learning Resources System, Waste Management and WellStar Health System;
• Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;
• Approved monthly financial reports;
• Approved special lease agreements; and,
• Approved monthly personnel recommendations.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, November 16, 2017.  There will be a 6 p.m. public input session on the Cherokee HS Attendance Area Plans.

student stands and leads the Pledge

Sequoyah HS Student Delegate Teddy Campbell leads the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the School Board meeting.

student shakes hands with school board members during recognition

Creekland MS student Brayden Fuentes is congratulated for her selection to the State Superintendent’s 2017-18 Student Advisory Council.

student shakes hands with school board members during recognition

Woodstock HS student Anna Fournaris is congratulated for her selection to the State Superintendent’s 2017-18 Student Advisory Council.

The Superintendent and School Board congratulate students named as National Merit Semi Finalists.

Karen Hawley at podium speaking to school board.

Karen Hawley speaks on behalf of the Retired Educators group after the School Board approved a proclamation.

Clayton ES PE teacher Anne Cross is recognized as a state winner and grant winner of the “Fire Up Your Feet” award for encouraging student fitness.

student shakes hands with superintendent.

Woodstock HS student Katherine Relick is congratulated by Superintendent Dr. Brian Hightower for her achievement of scoring a perfect 36 on the ACT.


Board Briefs: School Board Hears Plans for Relieving Cherokee HS Overcrowding

 

 

Etowah HS student delegate Katie Bishop leads the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The School Board on Thursday, September 14, 2017, heard plans for a public review of options to relieve overcrowding at Cherokee High School.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said he and his senior staff have been closely monitoring Cherokee High School enrollment, which now tops 2,600 — and developing options to provide relief.

While the campus is not “critically overcrowded” due to solutions already implemented, the Superintendent has committed to gathering public input to make a recommendation for School Board action… to take effect in the 2018-19 school year.

“This is a transparent process,” Dr. Hightower said.  “We will hold meetings that are open to the public, and we want to hear from everyone who has an opinion or concern about the possible solutions.”

Not only is the campus now home to 14 mobile units with 28 classrooms and 22 floating teachers, but 700 students crowd the cafeteria for each lunch period.  Only 196 students – a fraction of the 458 seniors – are able to park on campus (no underclassmen have the opportunity); and hallways, restrooms and other infrastructure cannot comfortably accommodate any further growth.

“Unfortunately, due to our School District’s decades of rapid growth coupled with a tax base that cannot generate enough revenue for us to ‘pay as we go’ with construction, we have a ‘mortgage’ to pay off from our aggressive building and major renovations plan… and not enough borrowing capacity to fund construction of a new high school ($70+ Million) in the next five years,” Dr. Hightower said.

While Dr. Hightower already had advised the School Board of his plans to include construction of a new high school campus to relieve Cherokee HS, which will take approximately three years to build, in the 2021 Education SPLOST referendum, he said Thursday that he strongly believes a solution is needed now.

“If we were two years from a solution, I might say we could do double sessions or another solution that would only involve Cherokee High School’s campus,” Dr. Hightower said.  “But we’re not in that kind of timeframe.”

To begin the recommendation process, Attendance Focus Group Meetings will be held Oct. 9-12 (a detailed schedule is below).  These meetings are open to the entire community: parents, employees, volunteers, partners, neighbors.  At these meetings, the Superintendent’s staff will share current data, projected growth and possible solutions.

The most important factors the Superintendent will take into consideration when reviewing these solutions are whether the changes will negatively impact teaching and learning and whether the recommendations will be fiscally responsible.  He will make a recommendation to the School Board at its November meeting, with a vote scheduled for the December meeting.

“No matter what options are considered during the process, I want our employees to know they will not lose their position with CCSD because of the solution the School Board chooses.  You will have a home,” he said.  “We’re in growth mode, and we need all the teachers and staff we have… and we’ll need more as we continue to grow.”

Several possible solutions already are being floated by parents in the community involving various schools in the Cherokee Innovation Zone, including ACE Academy.  All would require a shift of students or programs… and would need additional analysis as part of this input process.

The schedule of meetings is below – the public can attend any and all meetings, all of which are from 7 to 9 p.m.:

Canton ES STEM Academy: Oct. 9

Knox ES: Oct. 10

R.M. Moore ES: Oct. 11

Cherokee HS and ACE Academy: Oct. 12 at Cherokee HS auditorium

Also on Thursday, the School Board voted to advertise the CCSD Downtown Center, which is the name used for the offices at the Historic Canton High School building, and adjacent larger corner parking lot for sale.

The School Board also:

• Heard Strategic Work Session presentations on “Trends in Education” including topics such as the Canvas learning management system, the Balanced Literacy model, middle school STEM activities and a pilot program to use cameras in classrooms to improve instruction;
• Recognized Woodstock High School Navy JROTC Cadet Lt. Commander Katlyn Deveau as winner of National-level Legion of Valor Award;
• Recognized Georgia PTA State-level award winners;
• Recognized 19 CCSD educators for earning Apple Vanguard certification;
• Recognized 16 CCSD educators for earning Microsoft Innovative Educator Classroom certification;
• Recognized 10 CCSD educators as Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts;
• Recognized 31 CCSD schools and their PE and Health teachers for being named to the Governor’s SHAPE (Student Health and Physical Education) Honor Roll;
• Recognized Creekview HS Senior Elhana Kelley for her election to the Area 1 North Region FFA Officer Team;
• Approved a proclamation in honor of Constitution Week;
• Approved a proclamation recognizing September as National Attendance Awareness Month;
• Approved the renewal of Partnership Agreements with Cobb EMC, Hobgood Baseball Inc., North Georgia Regional Education Services Agency, Piedmont College and Sequoyah Regional Library System; • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips; • Approved monthly financial reports;
• Approved the issuance of a tax anticipation note;
• Approved the surplus of property to be sold at CCSD’s annual surplus auction on Oct. 7 (more information posted here);
• Approved granting an easement to the Cherokee County Water & Sewerage Authority;
• Approved special lease agreements;
• Approved monthly personnel recommendations; and,
• Approved the annual contract with Ninth District Opportunity Inc.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, October 19, 2017

Creekview HS senior Elhana Kelley is congratulated by the Board and Superintendent for her election to the Area 1 North Region FFA Officer Team.

The School Board recognized PE teachers from CCSD schools that were named to the Governor’s SHAPE Honor Roll.

The School Board recognized CCSD teachers for earning Apple Vanguard Certification as well as those earning Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert certification.

The School Board recognized Georgia PTA State-level award winners for 2016-17, including Model PTAs, Outstanding Principals, Outstanding Units, membership awards, as well as the 2017 Georgia PTA Outstanding School Nurse– Thania Molina from Mill Creek MS.