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

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.


School Board Appoints New, Reassigned Administrators and Principals

Retiring Assistant Superintendent for Educational Programs Susan McCarthy listens as she is praised by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower for her lifetime of service to public education.

The School Board on Thursday, March 16, 2017, approved the appointment of new and reassigned district administrators and principals for the 2017-18 school year and received a clean 2016 audit report.

The slate of appointments presented by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower for approval began with the recognition of a retiring leader: Assistant Superintendent for Educational Programs Susan McCarthy.

Dr. Hightower praised Ms. McCarthy for her lifetime of service, rising from a classroom teacher and Teacher of the Year to an assistant principal, principal, district leader and member of his senior staff.

“We’re very proud of you and wish you the best,” Dr. Hightower said, j

Dr. Nicole Holmes

oining the audience in giving Ms. McCarthy a standing ovation.

 

Dr. Nicole Holmes, who currently serves as Director of School Operations overseeing CCSD’s elementary schools, was approved as her successor, with the title Chief Academic Officer, which reflects a new “chief” title structure for senior staff beginning in 2017-18.

The role in which Dr. Holmes currently serves will be filled by Beth P. Long, current Principal of Canton Elementary School STEM Academy, whose appointment also was approved Thursday; its new title will be Executive Director of School Operations.

Beth P. Long

Other new or reassigned district administrators appointed Thursday to fill positions vacated by retirements or created to meet growth needs include:

• Dr. Christina Clayton, current facilitator for the Office of Instructional Technology, as Supervisor of Digital Content;
• Amy Chafin, currently a director for Worth County’s school system, as Supervisor of Middle and High School Curriculum;
• Lynda Wallace, currently a director for Pickens County’s school system, as Supervisor of Federal Programs;

Dr. Christina Clayton

• Melissa Sneed, currently a program specialist for Cobb County’s school system, as Supervisor of Special Education;
• Karla Tipton, currently a systems analyst, as Supervisor of Technology Support Services;
• Chris Saxon, currently a facilitator for enterprise field services, as Supervisor of Technology Field Services;
• Dr. Rouel Belleza, currently an administrator with Educational Programs, as Supervisor of Student Services; and,
• Danielle Ross, currently a coordinator with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, as Emergency Operations Facilitator.

Amy Chafin

Other new or reassigned Principals appointed Thursday to fill positions vacated by retirements or reassignments include:

• Robert Horn, currently an Assistant Principal for Cobb County’s school system, as Principal of Etowah High School;
• Dawn Weinbaum, currently Principal of E.T.

Booth Middle School, as Principal of Dean Rusk Middle School;
• Dr. Sue Zinkil, currently Principal of Teasley Middle School, as Principal of Creekland

Lynda Wallace

Middle School;
• Christian Kirby, currently Principal of Little River Elementary School, as Principal of Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy;
• Michael Manzella, currently Assistant Principal for Woodstock High School, as Principal of E.T. Booth Middle School;
• Dr. Benjamin Lester, currently Assistant Principal for Cherokee High School, as Principal of Teasley Middle School;
• Karen Carl, currently Principal of Free Home Elementary School, as Principal of Little River Elementary School;
• Kim Hagood, currently Assistant Principal for Carmel Elementary School, as Principal of Free Home Elementary School;
• Melinda Roulier, currently Assistant Principal for Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy, as Principal of Mountain Road Elementary School; a

Melissa Sneed

nd,
• Dr. Abby May, currently an Assistant Principal for Cobb County’s school system, as Principal of Canton Elementary School STEM Academy.

During its strategic work session, the School Board heard a presentation by the independent external auditor, who reported 2015-16 fiscal year audit received a clean opinion with no new findings or unresolved prior findings.

“Great job on a clean audit report,” School Board Member Clark Menard said, specifically thanking Ken Owen, Assistant

Karla Tipton

Superintendent for Financial Management, and his staff. “‘None listed’ on the list of follow-ups – that’s a good thing. Job well done.”

The work session also included a presentation on the Canvas learning management system currently being piloted by select teachers with a planned districtwide launch for next school year.

“We’re completely changing the way we’re delivering instruction,” said Dr. Clayton, who is leading the initiative, noting the online system allows students, teachers and parents to access

Chris Saxon

instructional materials, homework assignments, student performance data and other information all in one space.

The new system will lead to cost avoidance, both through the discontinued use of multiple programs with services duplicated in the one Canvas system, and also through the decreased use of paper and paper materials, printer ink and energy and flash drives and other supplies.

School Board Member Kelly Poole, whose son’s class is a part of the pilot, spoke very highly about the increased resources and

Dr. Rouel Belleza

information available to students and parents and the system’s ease of use.

“From a parent perspective, I love that,” she said, noting students no longer can use forgetting their book at school as an excuse to not complete homework and continue learning. “I support anything we can do to make our kids more successful, and this program helps with that.”

The School Board also:

• Thanked Dr. Hightower for a successful first year as Superintendent

Danielle Ross

of Schools and screened a video celebrating his past year;

• Thanked Etowah HS teacher Linda Yunker and students Josh Downen, Sarah Podstata and Grace Zaski for creating a teacher recruitment video to assist CCSD’s Division of Personnel Management; the video also was shown during the meeting;

• Recognized School Board Members in honor of School Board Member Appreciation Week;

• Recognized Liberty Elementary School as a 2017 State School of

Robert Horn

Character;

• Recognized CCSD Library Media Specialists of the Year;

• Recognized CCSD high school seniors named 2017 National Merit Finalists;

• Recognized 2016-17 STAR Students and STAR Teachers;

• Recognized Creekland Middle School as the 2016-17 CCSD Academic Bowl Team Champions;

Michael Manzella

• Recognized Region and State athletic champions;

• Approved a new partnership agreement with Give a Kid a Chance and a renewed agreement with the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce;

• Named School Board Member Robert “Rick Steiner” Rechsteiner as its delegate for 2017 Georgia School Boards Association Delegate Assembly;

• Approved monthly financial and Education SPLOST reports;

Dr. Benjamin Lester

• Authorized financial consultants to prepare, price and tentatively market a bond sale for voter-approved Education SPLOST purposes;

• Approved out-of-state travel;

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

• Approved the monthly capital outlay projects report;

• Approved CCSD’s Five-Year Facility Plan for capital outlay projects;

Kim Hagood

• Approved special lease agreements;

• Approved a boundary line agreement at the Buffington Educational Service Center;

• Approved a quit claim deed releasing a sewer easement to the Cherokee County Water and Sewerage Authority; and,

• Met in executive session to review pending litigation and a student discipline tribunal appeal.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 20, 2017

Melinda Roulier

Dr. Abby May

 


Cherokee County School Board Appoints Etowah HS Interim Principal

The School Board on Thursday, Feb. 2, approved the appointment of veteran educator and principal Dr. Bob Eddy as interim principal for Etowah High School through the end of the school year.

Dr. Bob Eddy

Dr. Eddy, whose long career in the Cherokee County School District has included serving as a classroom teacher, award-winning wrestling coach, principal of Dean Rusk MS and as the first principal of Creekview HS, will transition into the role this month in anticipation of the departure of Principal Keith Ball. Principal Ball is leaving CCSD to move closer to his extended family in New York and pursue a new career opportunity there.

Although retired, Dr. Eddy has worked part-time for CCSD in recent years to assist with its implementation of the State’s new teacher and leader evaluation system. He will officially begin serving as interim principal on March 1 and continue in the role through the end of the school year.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said he and his staff will use the next six weeks to seek out and interview candidates for this principal post, as well as other principal slots and district leadership roles that need to be filled for next school year. He said he anticipates recommendations will be presented to the School Board at the March 16 meeting.

“We’ll be doing a lot of interviewing,” Dr. Hightower said. “We are committed to finding the best possible leaders for our schools and district offices.”

The School Board also:

• Heard a presentation from Jordan Mason, River Ridge High School’s Student Delegate to the School Board, on his senior project, which includes a CCSD student leadership academy on Feb. 18, 2017 at Reinhardt University and the development of senior project recognition pins;

• Recognized Etowah HS senior Nathan Baker for achieving a perfect ACT score;

• Recognized Woodstock HS Assistant Principal Tonya Sebring for being inducted into the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame and being named Region 4-AAAAAAA Athletic Director of the Year;

• Recognized CCSD middle and high school students selected for All State Band, Chorus, Orchestra and Reading Chorus;

• Recognized Region and State athletic champions;

• Approved a resolution proclaiming Feb. 16, 2017 as “PTA Day in the Cherokee County School District”;

• Approved the final reading of an amended School Board Policy regarding student records;

• 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; and,

• Approved the 2017-18 and 2018-19 Superintendent’s organizational chart.

School Board Member Clark Menard was absent.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, March 16, 2017


Cherokee County School Board Sets Legislative Partnership Priorities

The Cherokee County School Board on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, approved its annual Legislative Partnership Priorities (read online here), which outline its position on major education-related issues likely to be considered by the Georgia General Assembly in the upcoming legislative session.

The majority of the priorities are largely unchanged from those set last year, with the addition of a request for the General Assembly to consider bringing back a career-track diploma with course requirements that better prepare students for technical college and/or directly entering the workforce.

The School Board’s requests for the Cherokee County legislative delegation to consider are:

  1. Partner with K-12 public school districts by requiring any changes to the State’s education funding formula to fully restore “austerity budget cuts” or provide for the equivalent in new state revenue… thereby empowering local School Boards to: address continued student population growth in Georgia; maintain a 180-day school calendar for students; reduce class sizes to State-funded maximums; and, replenish annual reserve fund balances. Locally-earned Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula funding was fully provided to local school districts by the Georgia General Assembly for 15 years with initial funding beginning in 1986-87 and continuing thereafter until 2002. Since 2002, $205.2M ($3.9M this year and $84M over the past five years) of statutorily-required QBE formula funding earned by CCSD has gone unfunded through austerity budget cuts… all during a time when CCSD student enrollment increased by more than 53% (14,527 students). 
  1. Partner with K-12 public school districts and their employees by addressing cost-prohibitive premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for participation in the State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP)… thereby empowering local School Boards to provide competitive, affordable and responsible health and benefit packages to their employees. Develop a statewide strategy for State Health Benefit Plan cost containment … rather than continuing to pass annual premium increases along to local school districts and their employees. State-level policy planning and budgeting, and the appropriation of necessary funding in this regard, are critically needed to address immediate and future healthcare needs of educators, noncertified staff and educational system retirees. Between FY2008 and FY2017, State appropriations for non-certified health insurance premiums have been systemically reduced and are slated for total elimination. Non-certified employees most often represent local school district’s’ lowest wage-earners and have been the most negatively impacted by the State’s recent actions in this regard.  SHBP is currently projected to operate with an annual deficit of more than $55 Million in FY 2018, signifying probable continued premium increases under current policy and planning. Extraordinary employee health care costs (in the form of significantly higher premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for deductibles, annual maximums, reduced credits and co-insurance expenses) continue to erode the quality and competiveness of the overall compensation package developed by local school districts for its employees.  While CCSD had approximately 350 fewer non-certified employees participating in SHBP in FY2016 compared to FY2009, employer contributions increased over $7M (from $3.6 to $10.7M) during that same time period. CCSD has been forced to privatize custodial and grounds services and increase the use of part-time/ temporary workers for non-certified staffing as cost-reduction measures. The annual cost of providing health insurance for a non-certified employee has risen from $2,000 in 2010 to $9,000 in 2016 a $7,000, or 450% increase! And with an additional $100 per employee per month increase effective Jan 2017, the cost of providing health insurance for a non-certified employee will increase to $846.20 per month and more than $10,000 per year. CCSD benefit costs for non-certified employees are projected to be $11.7M for 2016-17; up from $10.7M in 2015-16; $8.2M in 2014-15 and $7.5M in 2013-14. Local school systems cannot continue to absorb these extraordinary costs. 
  1. Partner with K-12 public school districts by ensuring proposed legislative initiatives strengthen provisions for the local control and management of schools . . . thereby empowering local School Boards to fulfill their Constitutional authority and responsibility to involve their local constituency, develop locally derived educational policy and oversee continued performance improvements among their students. CCSD FACTS: CCSD and its highly-respected School Board has garnered multiple State and National awards relative to student achievement gains and innovative educational programs. Through a model of determining a visionary Mission Statement, a prioritized listing of Major System Priorities and collaborative, governance-based policies, the CCSD School Board has a transparent and proven ability to guide its schools in exemplary teaching and learning. 
  1. Partner with K-12 public school districts by developing statutory provisions to further insure workforce readiness skills and preparation by high school graduates for transitions directly into careers or secondary-level career educational opportunities by providing students in Georgia with an alternative diploma option in the area of Technical/Career Preparation. 
  1. Partner with K-12 public school districts by implementing statutory provisions designed to address continued erosion of the State’s tax base through exemptions from the sales and use tax, income tax and other State taxes. 
  1. Partner with K-12 public school districts by opposing the continuation and/or expansion of existing programs that directly or indirectly use public funds to pay private school tuition for students or provide tax incentives for their parents. 
  1. Partner with K-12 public school districts by insuring timely, state and local access to all federal funding allocations.

The School Board hopes to meet next month with Cherokee County’s legislative delegation to review the priorities.

“I want us to be proactive in this process,” School Board Chair Kyla Cromer said.

Prior to the Regular Meeting, the School Board held a public hearing for input on 2016-17 school year attendance zones; no one came forward to speak.  A formal boundary redrawing process was not needed this year, as the only attendance zone adjustments planned are for neighborhoods not yet under construction that will be assigned to Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy.

The School Board also:

  • Recognized Woodstock ES teacher Pam Morgan as the 2017 Georgia Art Educator of the Year;
  • Recognized five CCSD high school students for appointment to the Model Atlanta Regional Commission;
  • Recognized CCSD School Nutrition for winning the Georgia Golden Radish Award at the Gold level;
  • Approved the renewal of Partnership Agreements with the Atlanta Area Council Boy Scouts of America, Cherokee Day Training Center and Northside Hospital-Cherokee;
  • Presented the “trailer” for the CCSD-Cherokee Retired Educators Association annual oral history video project, “Learning from Legends: Retired Educators Share Their Wisdom,” in celebrated of Retired Educators Day on Sunday, Nov. 6;
  • Set Feb. 11, 2017 as the date for its next School Board Training session;
  • 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 special lease agreements;
  • Approved granting right of way to the Georgia Department of Transportation for an intersection improvement and signal/crosswalk upgrade at the main entrance of Cherokee High School on SR 140/Marietta Highway;
  • Approved monthly personnel recommendations including the appointment of Brad Orth as Supervisor of Staffing; he currently works as a solutions consultant for Kronos Incorporated and previously served as Chief Information Officer for the City of Salem, Va.; and,
  • Reviewed a timeline for the upcoming AdvancED (SACS-CASI) accreditation renewal external team visit to CCSD.

 

School Board Member Clark Menard was absent.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, December 1, 2016


Board Briefs: Board Approves Two New Partnership Agreements with Community Organizations

Aramark Scholarship Winners 2016

The Aramark Scholarship Committee selected the following winners for a total of $6,000 in scholarships, who recently were recognized at a Cherokee County School Board meeting: Cherokee HS: Nishi Patel and Logan Willis; Creekview HS: Peyton Heath and Alyssa Powell; Etowah HS: Elizabeth Joann Dillard and Aaron Torres; River Ridge HS: Kaila Banker and Pierce Livesay; Sequoyah HS: Madison Evans and William “Will” Garrett Sanders; and Woodstock HS: Connor Booz and Bree’ara Murphy.

Highlights from regular meetings of the Cherokee County School Board

May 19, 2016: Strategic Work Session & Regular Meeting

The Cherokee County School Board on Thursday, May 19, 2016 spent its work session reviewing the Superintendent’s 2016-17 Annual Budget, which calls for reductions in class size and improvements in services for students without the need for a millage rate increase.

The tentative Annual Budget, which includes a $359 Million day-to-day operating budget, was approved to be tabled for a month of public review prior to an adoption vote on June 16.  The Executive Summary of the budget and annual Financial Facts report, a quick read on CCSD financial issues, both are posted on the CCSD website at www.cherokee.k12.ga.us.  Public hearings will be held at 11:30 a.m. June 7 and 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. June 16 at the Historic Canton High School/School Board Auditorium.

School Board Chair Kyla Cromer praised the Superintendent and his staff for incorporating all of the Board’s major budget priorities: maintaining 180 instructional days; continuing to reduce class size; improving classroom technology access; increasing budget reserves (to $48.8 Million… a positive for financial stability and credit ratings); offering competitive compensation and benefits; providing more resources for support services; and considering more innovative models like the Cherokee Academies.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower during the budget presentation highlighted an impressive list of operational enhancements, such as the hiring of 68 additional teachers to address student growth and further reduce class size, as well as the adoption of new math instructional resources for all grade levels and the appointment of three teachers on special assignment to serve as District “content coaches” to assist schools with using the new Grades K-12 resources and online tools.

“We’re not just going to throw resources at the schools,” Dr. Hightower said, as to why content coaches are important to the adoption’s success, noting that, in addition to the new content coaches, he also is recommending the appointment of four teachers on special assignment to pilot an assistance program in selected schools to provide teachers with better academic intervention and remediation efforts for at-risk students.

Other budget highlights include recommendations to:

  • Increase the starting pay for beginning teachers to $42,250;
  • Provide annual longevity step raise for all eligible employees;
  • Provide a 1% cost-of-living raise to all eligible employees;
  • Utilize one additional school social worker to reduce the caseloads of the existing two social workers;
  • Add a school nurse to serve students attending ACE Academy;
  • Add three additional technology specialists to provide hardware and software technical assistance to teachers and support personnel;
  • Add 14 new bus drivers and two new bus attendants to address continued increases in student ridership, improve efficiency and reduce ride time for students;
  • Continue to allocate one-half teacher allotment at each high school… dedicated to credit recovery/helping students stay on track for graduation;
  • Expand the school entry door security system that was successfully piloted this year to include card “swipe-in” access for employees at critical playground and mobile classroom area entry ways;
  • Construct school front hallway security foyers at eight pilot elementary schools;
  • Prepare the original Dean Rusk Middle School for occupation by Sequoyah High School (January 2017); and,
  • Repair/realign the bus drive at Macedonia Elementary School.

Assistant Superintendent for Financial Management Kenneth Owen said, although the State “austerity budget cut” was reduced to $3.9 Million and the Local property tax digest is improving, revenue continues to lag behind pre-Recession levels.

“We’re so glad to see property values again rising, but they’re still $4.2 Million less than what we got in 2007, and here we are 5,400 kids later,” Mr. Owen said.

As a result, CCSD will need to continue to address class size reduction, additional new instructional materials adoptions and other budget priorities in future budget cycles.

The Board during its regular meeting also approved the refinancing of some of CCSD’s bond debt from school construction projects, which will save $3.3 Million in interest over the next seven years… which, at more than 6% interest savings, is twice the standard goal level of savings.

“This makes those dollars go that much further… we’re really, really happy with the results,” Bryce Holcomb of Citi Group, CCSD’s bond underwriter, said of the refinancing pricing, which was conducted Thursday morning.

During its regular meeting, the School Board also:

  • Recognized CCSD’s School Nutrition Association for Winning Georgia Gold Scroll Award;
  • Recognized Etowah High School as Region 5AAAAAA GEMC Cooperative Spirit Sportsmanship Award Winner and River Ridge High School as 7AAAAA GEMC Cooperative Spirit Sportsmanship Award Winner;
  • Recognized 2015-16 Regional Science and Engineering Fair Winners;
  • Recognized 2015-16 Social Studies Fair Regional and State Winners;
  • Recognized 2015-16 Star English Learners and Star ESOL Teachers;
  • Recognized State and Regional Champions: Cherokee HS wrestling and track, Creekview HS girls soccer and Woodstock HS boys and girls swimming;
  • Recognized Recipients of Aramark 2016 Education Scholarships;
  • Recognized Cherokee HS Senior Bailee Gilbreath as recipient of the 2016 Oak Leaf Church Scholarship;
  • Recognized Free Home ES Principal Karen Carl as a 2016 Georgia Distinguished Principal;
  • Approved the renewal of a Partnership Agreement with the Cherokee County Health Department and a new Partnership Agreement with the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research;
  • Approved selection of a bond underwriter and financial advisor and authorization to select bond counsel;
  • Approved out-of-state travel;
  • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;
  • Approved monthly capital outlay projects;
  • Approved monthly personnel recommendations;
  • After meeting in executive session, voted to modify a student discipline decision to allow the student transportation to school, 5-2, with Board Members John Harmon and Robert Rechsteiner dissenting.

Next School Board meeting: 7 p.m. June 16, 2016


Board Briefs: School Board Honors Retiring Superintendent of Schools

Board Briefs - Dr. Petruzielo HonoredThe School Board on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016 unanimously voted to recognize retiring Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo by naming the new Educational Services Facility in his honor.

Dr. Petruzielo, who is retiring at the end of the month and served at his final School Board meeting on Thursday, was humbled by the recognition, noting that the past 17 years of service to the Cherokee County School District “have been the best of my 50-year career in education.”

“I was expecting a plaque,” Dr. Petruzielo joked after the surprise honor was announced. “This is an extraordinary honor and an unbelievable recognition. I don’t think that in my career I’ve ever felt as appreciated as I do this evening!”

Dr. Petruzielo, whose leadership and accomplishments were celebrated with numerous standing ovations, went on to thank: CCSD teachers, noting how much he appreciates their “sacrifices and hard work”; his wife and family; his senior staff; School Board members; local education reporters; his dedicated executive secretary and administrative assistant; and the community’s “incredible” PTA volunteers and leaders.

“I hope everyone will agree that I am leaving the School District in good shape and in good hands,” Dr. Petruzielo said. The much-needed administrative facility is under construction on the Bluffs Parkway in Canton and will open in August 2017. A dedication ceremony for “The Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo Educational Services Facility” will be held upon the facility’s completion.

School Board members praised Dr. Petruzielo for his dedication and success and thanked him for his service on behalf of students, parents and the broader community; and expressed appreciation for the professional relationships he built with them.

“Sir, you have set the standard for education,” said Board Member Rick Steiner, who stood to deliver his message as a sign of respect. Mr. Steiner noted his heroes are his father; his wrestling coaches; Ted Turner and Muhammad Ali, for whom he worked; and that he adds Dr. Petruzielo to that list: “You have taught me how to be a leader.”

Board Briefs - Dr. Petruzielo RetirementBoard Vice Chair Patsy Jordan wiped away tears as she thanked Dr. Petruzielo for beginning a life-changing journey for her… from his recommendation that she be hired as a CCSD teacher 17 years ago to serving alongside him on the School Board dais. “It has been one of the greatest experiences of my life,” she said.

The meeting included several other surprise recognitions for Dr. Petruzielo, including establishment by the Cherokee County Educational Foundation of a professional development annual scholarship in his name. The “Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo Leadership Award” is a $1,500 annual award that will be granted by CCEF to the most outstanding graduate of the CCSD Superintendent’s Leadership Academy for teacher-leaders, a capacity-building program instituted by Dr. Petruzielo. The grant enables the winner, who will be selected by his/her peers, to participate in additional professional development opportunities.

“Dr. P is a visionary with unsurpassed leadership,” CCEF Board President William “Billy” G. Hasty Jr. said as he announced the scholarship. Since its establishment in 2012 with Dr. Petruzielo’s support, CCEF has issued more than $80,000 in grants to the School District’s teachers, students and schools, with another $25,000 to be awarded in February. “It has been such a pleasure to be a part of this and witness all that is happening in the School District. You’re an inspiration.”

Following recognition of CCSD for its third consecutive inclusion in annual Advanced Placement (AP) District Honor Roll Recognition, which celebrates school districts with increasing percentages of student participation and success in the AP Program, Dr. Petruzielo was honored by The College Board, which administers the Program. “During your tenure, you have opened the door of opportunity for so many students,” Kendall Hawkins with The College Board said in her remarks praising Dr. Petruzielo for increasing student access to not only AP courses, but also to SAT and PSAT testing. Since Dr. Petruzielo’s arrival in 1999, CCSD has seen dramatic increases in participation and passage rates for these courses and tests… 108% increase in SAT participation, 260% increase in PSAT participation and 809% increase in AP participation.

During the Public Participation section of the meeting, longtime CCSD teacher Anita Geoghagan praised Dr. Petruzielo for his passionate advocacy for teachers and public education. “You didn’t take no for an answer even when there were times when that would have been easier,” she said.

The School Board’s regular meeting followed a Strategic Work Session, during which Dr. Petruzielo and his staff briefed the Board on important issues, including: a 2016-17 CCSD budget forecast in light of the Governor’s release of his proposed State budget for next year and anticipated State legislation (an initial CCSD report in this regard is attached); a capital outlay program update; the most recent status report on the Governor’s “Opportunity School District” local school State takeover plan; and a draft 2016-17 CCSD Organizational Chart.

During its regular meeting, the School Board also:

  • Approved a three-year employment contract for Dr. Brian V. Hightower, whom the Board unanimously appointed last month to serve as the next Superintendent of Schools, from Feb. 1, 2016 through Jan. 31, 2019;
  • Re-elected Patsy Jordan to serve as Vice Chair for a second one-year term;
  • Recognized Teasley MS as a Georgia 2015 Reward School for outstanding student progress, designating it as among the top 10% of Title I schools in Georgia;
  • Recognized Johnston ES for being named a Platinum-Level Fit Friendly School by the American Heart Association… making it the first in CCSD to earn this National recognition. Lynn Ziner, youth market director for the Association, attended the meeting to present Johnston ES with the plaque;
  • Recognized CCSD Adaptive PE teacher Amy Aenchbacher as Recipient of 2015 BlazeSports Triumph of the Human Spirit Award for making a significant impact in Georgia through adaptive sport and recreation;
  • Recognized 2015-16 Reinhardt University/CCSD Mathematics Tournament Winners;
  • Recognized State and Region Champions from Creekview HS Competition Cheerleading, Softball and Volleyball teams and Sequoyah HS Volleyball team;
  • Adopted the Georgia Education Coalition (GEC) 2016 Legislative Priorities;
  • Approved monthly financial reports;
  • Approved 2015-16 School Improvement Plans (SIPs);
  • Approved out-of-state travel;
  • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;
  • Approved monthly update on capital outlay projects; and,
  • Approved monthly personnel recommendations.

Next School Board meeting: 7 p.m. Feb. 4, 2016


School Board Unanimously Approves Dr. Brian V. Hightower as Superintendent of Schools

Dr. Brian V. Hightower Accepts New Post as SuperintendentThe Cherokee County School Board tonight unanimously approved the appointment of Dr. Brian V. Hightower as the next Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Hightower, who has served for the last 29 years in CCSD beginning as a classroom teacher and rising through school and central office administrative roles, will take office on Feb. 1.

“I stand ready to serve as your next Superintendent,” Dr. Hightower told Board members during a brief speech to thank them, retiring Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo, his family, his colleagues and his mentors and friends. “To be a part of this organization for 29 of my 30 years [in education] has turned into being the privilege of a lifetime.”

School Board Chair Dr. Brian V. HightowerKyla Cromer said the Board was very impressed by Dr. Hightower’s experience and education, as well as his interview and recommendations. She said the strengths his supporters noted in recommending Dr. Hightower included: hard working, professional, well-respected, consistent, fair, thoughtful, problem-solver, leader.

“Your vote of confidence steels my resolve that we continue to be one of the best school districts in the Nation,” he said.


Board Briefs: School Board Unanimously Approves Contract for New Educational Services Facility

CCSD Educational Services Facility Plans

The $16 Million contract to build the CCSD Educational Services Facility on Bluffs Parkway in Canton was awarded to Womack, Lewis and Smith Construction. Funded by Education SPLOST revenue, construction will begin in January and be completed by August 2017.

The School Board on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015, unanimously approved a contract for construction of a new administration building that will reunify staff and increase efficiency in central office operations.

The new/replacement facility has been needed, as well as approved by voters through Education Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) referenda, for 15 years; but Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo had repeatedly recommended postponement in order to construct 19 new schools.

“We can no longer productively and efficiently manage and supervise the School District with central office staff spread out throughout the County in facilities that were not designed to meet current operational needs,” Dr. Petruzielo said. “This new facility will allow for more efficient operations and better serve students, employees and the general public.”

The $16 Million contract funded by Education SPLOST revenue to build the 90,300 square-foot CCSD Educational Services Facility in Canton was awarded to Womack, Lewis and Smith Construction.

The complex, which includes an office building and a professional development training center/School Board auditorium, will be built on more than 15 acres on the Bluffs Parkway north of Riverstone Plaza. The School District received the property in an exchange with the City of Canton for CCSD Buildings A and B downtown.

Construction will begin in January and be completed by August 2017. The new facility will reunite 150 employees from various departments in one centrally located, cost-effective office building; and the training center/auditorium, with a capacity for 690, will allow for professional development, special events and School Board meetings in a space that is significantly larger than current options.

School Board members at Thursday’s meeting also heard several presentations from staff.

School Board Member Mike Chapman requested a presentation on school safety in light of recent mass shootings in the U.S. and France. School District Police Chief Mark Kissel gave an overview of the department’s history, current operations and recent upgrades, such as the installation of buzz-in electronic school entrance systems that eliminate the practice of keeping one front door unlocked.

“We take it very seriously that this threat is out there,” Mr. Chapman said of school safety, noting that he has been “very impressed” by the Department’s operations and partnerships with other local law enforcement, especially in light of the fact that CCSD receives no State funds for safety and security.

At the request of Board Chair Kyla Cromer, Susan McCarthy, Assistant Superintendent for Educational Programs, Student Support and Professional Development, spoke about student out-of-country field trips. Ms. McCarthy assured the Board that CCSD works closely with its vendor for travel services, which monitors safety and security issues before and during such trips.

Also at the request of the Chair, Ken Owen, Assistant Superintendent for Financial Management, spoke about CCSD’s recent State audit and the closing meeting that they and the Superintendent attended this week with the auditors. Per State law, the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts may at any time elect to perform a random audit on any state or local unit of government. The State in November 2014 notified CCSD that Fiscal Year 2014 operations would be audited, in part due to the actions of a former School Board member.

The State audit concentrated on the financial statement work performed by Williamson and Company, the third-party, independent auditor hired by the School Board. After nearly six months of on-site review, an unprecedented experience for CCSD, the State found no instance of fraud, waste or mismanagement. The State’s report concludes with an unmodified opinion, the most positive rating possible.

“The people from the State were very complimentary of [Mr. Owen],” Ms. Cromer said. “They were very impressed… and very satisfied with what we are doing.”

The State report’s findings refer only to the financial statements produced by Williamson and Company, and not to the staff or operations of the CCSD Office of Financial Management. All recommended changes to FY14 financial statements have been made by Williamson and Company at no charge to CCSD. All operational recommendations have been implemented (more than 75% were in place prior to completion of the State audit) or will be in place by the end of the current fiscal year.

Mr. Owen also noted that CCSD hired an internal auditor this fiscal year, who began work on July 1, to continually review and test internal controls and assist in identifying additional opportunities for operational improvements/efficiencies.

Board Member Kelly Poole, who is an accountant, asked as to whether the internal auditor would assist CCSD in developing its own financial statements. Mr. Owen said that work is underway to do just that, beginning with a parallel process for FY16 that will be compared to the independent auditor’s statements.

The Board, at the request of the Chair, also heard a presentation on the Tax Allocation District (TAD) being considered by the City of Holly Springs. School Board Attorney Tom Roach explained the process, which, if approved by the School Board, would allow the City to withhold a certain percentage of property tax growth revenue that otherwise would fund school operations to instead be used by the City to redevelop its downtown area.

Mr. Roach and Dr. Petruzielo both voiced concerns that the City has not provided the legally required written proposal or basic information about the project’s scope and the financial impact to CCSD, but the City is holding public meetings at which the TAD is being potentially erroneously described as in CCSD’s best interest.

Dr. Petruzielo said it appears that the City’s proposed TAD could significantly increase residential growth (which increases the cost of CCSD operations), rather than focusing solely on increasing commercial growth, which would improve the property tax base to the benefit of CCSD operations.

As a result, both Mr. Roach and Dr. Petruzielo said it would be premature and irresponsible for staff to make a recommendation to the Board that this TAD be approved.

“You don’t want to be in a position where money that should be spent on students and teachers is being spent to develop Holly Springs’ downtown,” he said.

During its regular meeting, the School Board also:

  • Recognized Cherokee County School District Teacher of the Year Jeremy Law of Teasley MS;
  • Recognized the Creekview HS girls’ cross-country team members and coaches for winning first-place at the Regional competition and second-place at the State championship meet;
  • Recognized the Cherokee HS advanced welding teacher and students for constructing a 28-foot Eiffel Tower tribute for the Holiday Lights of Hope display at Hobgood Park benefitting the Anna Crawford Children’s Center;
  • Approved a resolution in regard to the planned use of construction bonds;
  • Approved monthly financial reports;
  • Approved the disposal of surplus property through a surplus sale at 9 a.m. on Dec. 12 at the CCSD Warehouse at 201 Mountain Brook Court in Canton;
  • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;
  • Approved monthly update on capital outlay projects;
  • Approved monthly personnel recommendations; and,
  • Approved an amendment to the Aramark custodial services contract to increase staffing.

Next School Board meeting: 6 p.m. Dec. 18, 2015


Board Briefs: School Board Unanimously Approves 2016 Legislative Program

The School Board on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015, approved its 2016 Legislative Program, which is published annually to inform the community as to how the Cherokee County State Legislative Delegation could better assist the Cherokee County School District.

The 2016 Legislative priorities outlined in the Program, which was unanimously approved by the School Board, ask the State Legislature to:

  • Fund the existing State educational funding formula to fully restore “austerity budget cuts”;
  • Address skyrocketing premiums and out-out-pocket expenses for participation in the State Health Benefit Program;
  • Support local control and management of public schools rather than supporting State takeover plans like the Governor’s proposed “Opportunity School District” Constitutional Amendment;
  • Correct evaluation models for teachers and administrators to allow greater emphasis on observation of their performance by trained administrators and supervisors;
  • Stop the erosion of the State’s tax base through tax exemptions for private companies;
  • Oppose the continuation and/or expansion of programs that use public funds to pay for private school tuition and/or provide tax incentives; and,
  • Undertake no modifications to Federal funding access and availability that would delay or reduce local school districts’ earned allocations.

School Board Member Clark Menard thanked the Superintendent and his staff for adding the last priority, which he had requested. Mr. Menard said he is frustrated by State Legislators’ proposals to take away the local control of a school board’s ability to accept Federal funds for such needs as Title I schools, which have higher percentages of low-income students, and outstanding teachers who qualify for grants.

“There’s nothing more local than a school board,” Mr. Menard said, as to who should make the decision whether to accept Federal funds.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo agreed, and also spoke to the recently unveiled proposals from the Governor-appointed Education Reform Commission that would continue to shortchange public schools the State funding they are owed through the existing funding formula by reconfiguring the formula with a lower starting point.

“It’s convenient to say ‘we’re going to fully fund a new formula,’ but to not start it out at the funding levels we’re currently owed,” Dr. Petruzielo said, noting the State “austerity budget cut” for CCSD currently totals $11 Million. “I think it’s irresponsible, and the quality of education is going to be in direct correlation with the lack of full funding. People like to say ‘You can’t fix a problem by throwing money at it,” but I’m here to say that I’ve been a superintendent for 25 years, and I don’t remember anyone ever throwing money at me. I’ve had to fight and claw for every dollar that our children were owed.”

Dr. Petruzielo’s passionate advocacy for public education resulted in a special moment at Thursday’s meeting when two Woodstock High School students, Brittany and Sydney Gunter, spoke during Public Participation to thank him for his 50 years of service as an educator and present him with a U.S. Flag flown over the U.S. Capitol.

Woodstock High School students Sydney, left, and Brittany Gunter present Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo with a U.S. flag flown over the U.S. Capitol in appreciation of his 50 years of service as an educator and his advocacy for public education.

Woodstock High School students Sydney, left, and Brittany Gunter present Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo with a U.S. flag flown over the U.S. Capitol in appreciation of his 50 years of service as an educator and his advocacy for public education.

During its regular meeting, the School Board also:

  • Recognized CCSD Transportation Department for earning ASE Blue Seal of Excellence… becoming one of the first school systems in the State to obtain this prestigious level of National certification. A list of all recognized employees is posted online;

    The CCSD Transportation Department was recognized at the School Board Meeting for earning ASE Blue Seal of Excellence… becoming one of the first school systems in the State to obtain this prestigious level of National certification.

    The CCSD Transportation Department was recognized at the School Board Meeting for earning ASE Blue Seal of Excellence… becoming one of the first school systems in the State to obtain this prestigious level of National certification.

  • Recognized CCSD High School Seniors named 2016 National Merit and National Achievement Semi-Finalists: Matthew Wang of River Ridge HS, Mackenzie Joy of Sequoyah HS and Paula Ruiz of Woodstock HS;
  • Recognized Georgia School Public Relations Association (GSPRA) Publication Award-winning CCSD staff members;
  • Presented a “trailer” with excerpts from the first “Learning from Legends: Retired Educators Share Their Wisdom” video record, a new collaboration between CCSD and the Cherokee Retired Educators Association inspired by the StoryCorps national oral history project and the annual observance of Retired Educators Day;
  • Approved monthly financial reports;
  • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;
  • Approved monthly update on capital outlay projects;
  • Approved monthly personnel recommendations including appointing: Abbey Philpot, currently an assistant principal at Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy, as the new Principal of Clayton ES; Jennifer McIntosh, currently a teacher at Clark Creek ES STEM Academy, as a new assistant principal at Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy; and Dr. Susan McQuade, a teacher at Boston ES, as a new assistant principal at Macedonia ES; and,
  • Met in Executive Session to review a personnel matter and a student discipline matter; upon returning to open session, the Board voted to uphold the tribunal’s decision in regard to the student discipline matter. Next School Board meeting: 7 p.m. Dec. 3, 2015

Nest School Board meeting: 7 p.m. December 3, 2015


Board Briefs: New Board Member, Plans Shared for New Facility

The School Board on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015 reviewed plans for the new/replacement CCSD administration building and officially welcomed the new District 1 Board Member.

Swearing In of Kyla Cromer, District 1 Seat The Board last month appointed Kelly Poole, an accountant and longtime PTA and community volunteer, to the District 1 seat, which was vacated when Kyla Cromer was appointed School Board Chair. Ms. Poole, accompanied by her husband and two children, was sworn into office on Thursday by Cherokee County Probate Court Judge Keith Wood. The term expires Dec. 31, 2016, and District 1 includes the BridgeMill and Sixes area.

During its Strategic Work Session, the Board heard a status report from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo and his staff on planning for the new/replacement administration building to be constructed on Bluffs Parkway in Canton. The Board in March unanimously approved a land swap agreement with the City of Canton to build what will be called the CCSD Educational Services Facility. In exchange for Buildings A and B in downtown Canton, CCSD received 16 acres of City-owned property across from the Cherokee County government’s administration building north of Riverstone Plaza. The new CCSD building will allow for the reunification of 150 employees from various departments in one more cost-effective facility and will include an open meeting space for professional development, special events and School Board meetings that is significantly larger than current options.

An advertisement seeking proposals from general contractors to build the complex will be published today; the Board will consider selection of a proposal at its December meeting. Construction would begin in January and be completed by August 2017. Construction of the $15 Million project will be funded by Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) revenue, as previously approved by voters. Estimated costs per square foot are less than similar projects recently constructed in the county, and the design and construction will incorporate the same cost- and energy-efficient elements as featured in newer CCSD schools.

Board Member Mike Chapman said it makes good business sense to build professional office space for administrative staff and training needs in order to attract and retain the best employees. “Anyone who sees this plan should understand that,” he said, noting that taxpayers have shown their support through approving the project as part of three Ed SPLOST votes. Board Member Clark Menard said he is pleased that the design allows for some future staff growth, which extends the lifespan of the facility without the need for immediate additions. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo said the facility is “long overdue,” noting that the county’s other government entities have made significant investments in infrastructure, while CCSD prioritized building 19 new and replacement schools to accommodate student enrollment growth. “It’s always difficult to justify spending on administrative infrastructure, but we can’t be as productive an organization as we have been or hope to continue to be without efficient facilities,” he said. “I think we’ve built a strong case for the need.”

Honoring Past Board Chair, Janet Read The Board and the audience rose to its feet several times for a special recognition during the regular meeting to honor Immediate Past School Board Chair Janet Read for distinguished service. Ms. Read, who for two decades served CCSD as a PTA volunteer and then as a School Board member and its first countywide elected Chair, stepped down earlier this year due to an employment opportunity that would not allow her to serve in public office. She was thanked not only by the Board and Superintendent of Schools, which presented her with a framed gavel and commemorative plaque, but also by the Cherokee County Council of PTA and Georgia PTA, which presented her with a Life Achievement Award – the PTA’s highest honor for a volunteer.

During its work session, the School Board also took the following actions:

  • Heard a report on the Governor’s proposed “Opportunity School District” State takeover plan, which would allow the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement to seize local schools, including CCSD schools, and turn the operations and the assets over to for-profit charter operators;
  • Heard a status report on the implementation of Kronos, an integrated personnel and payroll system to improve CCSD operational efficiency;
  • Reviewed the draft 2016 Legislative Program, which calls on the Cherokee County Legislative Delegation to:
    • Fund the existing State educational funding formula to fully restore “austerity budget cuts”;
    • Address skyrocketing premiums and out-out-pocket expenses for participation in the State Health Benefit Program;
    • Support local control and management of public schools rather than supporting State takeover plans like the Governor’s proposed “Opportunity School District” Constitutional Amendment;
    • Correct evaluation models for teachers and administrators to allow greater emphasis on observation of their performance by trained administrators and supervisors;
    • Stop the erosion of the State’s tax base through tax exemptions for private companies;
    • Oppose the continuation and/or expansion of programs that use public funds to pay for private school tuition and/or provide tax incentives.
  • Heard staff updates including the announcement that Boundary Focus Groups will not be needed this fall, as no boundary redrawings will be proposed for the 2016-17 School Year. During its regular meeting, the School Board also took the following actions:
  • Recognized Clark Creek ES STEM Academy for Earning State STEM Certification; • Recognized Hickory Flat ES as 2015-2017 National PTA School of Excellence;
  • Recognized CCSD Schools as Governor’s SHAPE (Student Health and Physical Education) Honor Roll Honorees (names of recognized teachers are posted here);
  • Recognized the 20th Anniversary of Georgia Pre-K in CCSD;
  • Approved a proclamation in honor of Retired Educators Day, Nov. 1, 2015.
  • Approved monthly financial reports;
  • Approved out-of-state travel;
  • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;
  • Approved monthly update on capital outlay projects;
  • Approved monthly personnel recommendations including the retirement of Dr. Pat Kearns, Director of Curriculum and Academic Standards, who began her tenure with CCSD in 1999 after working for the Sequoyah Regional Library System and in public school administration in Iowa;
  • The School Board Attorney recommended that the School Board meet in Executive Session following the Nov. 5, 2015 regular meeting in order to review applications for the Superintendent of Schools position and possibly select finalists for interviews; and,
  • Met in Executive Session to review an attorney-client privilege matter, but took no action upon returning to open session. Next School Board meeting: 7 p.m. Nov. 5, 2015

Board Briefs (PDF) 10/16/2015