Board Briefs: School Board Hears Update on Cherokee HS Overcrowding

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.


CCSD Schedules 2nd Round of Attendance Area Focus Group Meetings

A second round of Attendance Area Focus Group meetings to review possible solutions to Cherokee High School overcrowding has been scheduled to provide information responsive to audience questions.

The public meetings will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 25, and Thursday, Oct. 26, at Cherokee HS.

Miss the first round of meetings? Here’s the staff presentation: CCSD 2017 Attendance Area Focus Group Meetings Presentation.


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.


CCSD Media Specialist of the Year Named Georgia Library Media Specialist of the Year!

UPDATE 6/12/17: CCSD Media Specialist of the Year Anne Nechvatal of Cherokee HS today was named the Georgia Library Media Specialist of the Year!  The surprise presentation was made today at the Georgia Library Media Association’s Summer Institute in Peachtree City.

UPDATE 6/12/17: CCSD Media Specialist of the Year Anne Nechvatal of Cherokee HS today was named the Georgia Library Media Specialist of the Year! The surprise presentation was made today at the Georgia Library Media Association’s Summer Institute in Peachtree City.

UPDATE 5/8/17: CCSD Media Specialist of the Year Anne Nechvatal of Cherokee HS has been named the North Central Georgia regional winner by the Georgia Library Media Association and the Georgia Association of Instructional Technology!  She now is a finalist for the 2017 Georgia Library Media Specialist of the Year Award to be presented in June.

Cherokee High School Media Specialist Anne Nechvatal gets a congratulatory hug from social studies teacher Angie Pannell after the surprise announcement that she was chosen as the Cherokee County School District’s 2017 Media Specialist of the Year.

Check out the video from today’s surprise presentation: https://youtu.be/YH2iQajg1PM

The Cherokee High School media center’s transformation from old-school library to a modern, collaborative learning space has earned Anne Nechvatal the honor of Cherokee County School District 2017 Media Specialist of the Year!

Ms. Nechvatal, who sees the center as “the largest classroom in the school,” was surprised with the award on Monday, March 6, 2017 by the Superintendent of Schools and School Board Members in front of an audience of the school’s faculty and her husband. She now will represent CCSD in the State-level competition. The presentation and reception that followed were sponsored by Northside Hospital-Cherokee, a CCSD Partner.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, awards flowers and plaque to CCSD 2017 Media Specialist of the Year Anne Nechvatal, center, as fellow media specialist Vicki Barbre, left, hugs her.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower praised Ms. Nechvatal for her dedication to digital learning.

“You’ve turned the media center upside down to make sure it’s relevant for your students and teachers,” Dr. Hightower said, applauding her focus on staying up to date in an “age of information.” “Anne is a shining example of everything we want a media specialist to be.”

Ms. Nechvatal, who was congratulated with a standing ovation, said she was “very honored and overwhelmed” by the surprise. She also was quick to acknowledge the work of her fellow media specialist, Vicki Barbre, noting “this is really her honor as well.”

Anne Nechvatal is congratulated by her husband, Gerry, as part of the surprise announcement that she is CCSD’s Media Specialist of the Year, as Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower and Principal Todd Miller look on.

The award process begins with each Innovation Zone (high school and feeder elementary and middle schools) selecting a Media Specialist for the Year. Applications from these honorees then are considered by a panel of retired educators and community leaders, who select the CCSD Media Specialist of the Year.

In addition to Ms. Nechvatal for the Cherokee Innovation Zone (IZ), the other Zone winners are: Creekview IZ – Hollen Pope, Ball Ground ES STEM Academy; Etowah IZ – Denise Lewis, Etowah HS; River Ridge IZ – Keara Rubin, River Ridge HS; Sequoyah IZ – Mia Temples, Hickory Flat ES; and Woodstock IZ – Kimberly George, Sixes ES. They all will be recognized by the School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the March 16 School Board meeting.

Ms. Nechvatal is a graduate of Oglethorpe University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree; University of West Georgia, where she earned her masters of education degree in school library media; and University of West Georgia, where she recently completed her education specialist degree.

A previous winner of the Creekview IZ’s Media Specialist of the Year Award, Ms. Nechvatal joined Cherokee High School two years ago and since then has focused on updating the media center and its resources to increase benefits to students and teachers. She also serves as the school’s Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl Team coach and judges Senior Projects.

“My mission for the CHS media center is to create a space that is open, accessible and user-friendly; put simply, a place where students want to come,” said Ms. Nechvatal, who previously served as a media specialist at Ball Ground ES STEM Academy.

Dr. Pam Andes, as graduation coach at the school, sees students benefit from the media center’s resources and additional learning opportunities.

“Our students are waiting for the media center to open each morning in order to spend time here before school begins,” Dr. Andes said. “Students know that she will assist them with any issues in the media center. She truly cares about our students and wants our media center to be second to none.”

Ms. Nechvatal has applied for grants to improve the center and develops activities to increase student traffic, such as the annual Technology “Smackdown” event.

“Building relationships is one of the most important parts of being an effective media specialist. I strive to understand the wants and needs of both our students and teachers,” she said. “I feel like the students are my customers, and I want to offer them the best customer service possible. I try not to ever let them go away empty handed.”

Principal Todd Miller thanked Ms. Nechvatal for all of her efforts that led to the honor.

“Thank you for what you do each day and for turning our media center into a digital learning center,” he said.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Hightower, congratulates CCSD 2017 Media Specialist of the Year Anne Nechvatal, as Cherokee High School Principal Todd Miller looks on.

From left to right, School Board member Kelly Poole, School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, and Jennifer Stanley of Northside Hospital-Cherokee, which sponsored by the award presentation and reception, congratulate CCSD 2017 Media Specialist of the Year Anne Nechvatal of Cherokee High School, center, with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Hightower and Principal Todd Miller.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, awards flowers and plaque to CCSD 2017 Media Specialist of the Year Anne Nechvatal, center, as fellow media specialist Vicki Barbre, left, hugs her.

Following the surprise, CCSD 2017 Media Specialist of the Year Anne Nechvatal was celebrated at a reception in the media center with cake, punch and coffee. The presentation and reception were sponsored by Northside Hospital-Cherokee, a CCSD Partner.

 


Cherokee HS Student Wins Georgia’s Most Positive Male Athlete Award

Category : CCSD

Jacob Klebar, Georgia’s Positive Athlete Award Winner, runs with the Cherokee High School Warriors.

A Cherokee High School Class of 2017 graduate has been named Georgia’s Positive Male Athlete of the Year!

Jacob Klebar

Jacob Klebar, a member of the school’s football team who graduated this month and is headed to Reinhardt University on an academic scholarship, will be honored next month at the 2016-17 Georgia Positive Athlete Awards at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

The award is presented by Positive Athlete Georgia, a subsidiary of Celebrate Positive LLC, which promotes the benefits of positivity to young athletes around the world. Hines Ward, a former Forest Park High School, University of Georgia and Pittsburgh Steelers football star, formed Positive Athlete with local businessman Scott Pederson.

More than 3,400 students are nominated annually by coaches, principals, athletic directors, teachers and parents. Awards are presented for specific sports and regions, with the top award – Positive Athlete of the Year — presented to one male and one female student for the entire state.

In addition to excellence on the field, Positive Athletes must show characteristics such as an optimistic attitude, teammate encouragement, servant leadership, heart for others, ability to admit imperfections, giving 100 percent all the time, and realizing the team as more important than the individual.

An injury left Jacob unable to play on the field his junior and senior years, but that didn’t end his membership on the team, as he stayed on the roster and involved in encouraging and coaching his teammates.


Cherokee HS Names Men’s Soccer Head Coach

Category : CCSD

Samer Kaddah

Cherokee High School has named Samer Kaddah as its new Men’s Soccer Head Coach!

A World and U.S. History teacher, Coach Kaddah grew up in Kennesaw and graduated from Kell High School as a four-year soccer starter and three-year captain, who also played club soccer for NASA.

Coach Kaddah played soccer for Kennesaw State University from 2009-2012 while earning his degree in history. Upon graduation, he joined Cherokee High School’s staff as a history teacher.

“Coach Kaddah brings a wealth of background and experience to the position,” Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Jeremy Adams said. “He has tremendous desire to lead student-athletes to be better players and overall people.

Coach Kaddah and his wife, Christina, are expecting their first child this spring.

“I am very excited to have the opportunity to build upon a program that has already been established,” Coach Kaddah said. “We have a great group of athletes and coaches, and I think the future is very bright for Warriors’ soccer.”