CCSD Employees Stay Busy During Summer Break

CCSD Employees Stay Busy During Summer Break

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



School Board Tours Newly Renovated and Opened Sequoyah East Annex

The former Dean Rusk Middle School campus has been renovated for use as the Sequoyah East annex to provide more capacity for adjacent Sequoyah High School.

The Cherokee County School Board joined the Superintendent of Schools on a tour of the newly renovated and opened Sequoyah East annex on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017.

Sequoyah East, formerly the home of Dean Rusk Middle School, now is in use by students and staff from the adjacent Sequoyah High School, with further expansion plans slated for next school year.

With the opening of the new/replacement Dean Rusk Middle School in August, the original Dean Rusk MS campus (built for 725 students with 45 classrooms and lab classrooms) was available for repurposing to provide Sequoyah HS additional space to reduce overcrowding and prepare for anticipated growth.

“Moving forward, this will be a great space for Sequoyah High School,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “We’re really proud of it.”

In order to make this new use possible on the campus constructed in 1985 (with an addition constructed in 1990), it required some rehabilitation work, including:
• Installation of a new air-conditioning system in the gymnasium using a new external fabric duct system that avoided $50,000 in duct work costs (the same system next will be installed in the original Teasley MS gym now used by ACE Academy);
• Installation of a new phone system and new fiber optic lines for technology; all classrooms are outfitted with smart boards, computers and other technology;
• Repainting of walls and installation of new ceiling tiles;
• Installation of new flooring in the administration area using a vinyl tile product with minimal maintenance costs as a pilot project;
• Resurfacing of restroom floors and office and classroom cabinetry and countertops using new epoxy products as a pilot project, with a $10,000-plus cost avoidance versus replacement;
• Replacement of pedestal sinks and installation of new wall-hung fixtures that avoided more costly wall removal and replacement costs;
• Installation of new signage at the main entrance; and,
• Installation of a new school-wide LED lighting system sourced from a Holly Springs company (underway and to be completed by Spring Break)… reducing power usage for lighting by 80% to 112 amps – the first such system for a CCSD school and a significant cost savings!

Additionally, a newly installed covered walkway creates a safe route for students and staff between Sequoyah East and the main Sequoyah HS campus. Construction of an internal drive system allows for the separation of cars and buses and ingress/egress between the schools without entering Hickory Road or East Cherokee Drive.

CCSD Maintenance staff completed the work, with some support from vendors for renovation work; Education SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) funds covered the $500,000 in costs.

The “facelift,” according to Maintenance Director Ronald Barnes and Facility Technician Brian McDonough, who led the project, not only freshened up the facility, but also improved operating efficiency and allows them to test new products for possible use districtwide.

“They’ve done a phenomenal job,” Bill Sebring, Assistant Superintendent for Support Services and Facilities/Construction Management, said of his staff. “They transformed the space to where you wouldn’t know the building is over 30 years old.”

School Board Chair Kyla Cromer and Board members were impressed by the improvements.

“It’s a beautiful facility,” she said. “I appreciate all you have done… the economical choices, using local suppliers. Thank you!”

After gathering input from the school community, Sequoyah HS students began using the Sequoyah East annex this semester:
• Current classes now served at Sequoyah East include: World Languages (Latin, French and Spanish II), the Teacher Cadet program and several core academic classes (Social Studies – 4 teachers, Math – 3 teachers and English – 2 teachers). As a result of opening Sequoyah East, the school was able to eliminate the need for teachers to “float” between classrooms, as well as reduce the number of teachers housed in mobile classrooms; and,
• Future plans for 2017-18 include moving Junior ROTC classes to the facility, as well as relocating additional core academic classes and beginning use of the cafeteria to reduce overcrowding on the main campus. If Sequoyah High adds new Career Pathways course offerings for 2018-19, those classes also likely would be housed at Sequoyah East.

The response to Sequoyah East, Principal Elliott Berman said, has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The kids are amazed,” he said, noting Assistant Principal Matthew May’s office is housed at Sequoyah East to provide administrative oversight there. “They’ve said, ‘It didn’t look like this when we were at Dean Rusk.’”

Facility Technician Brian McDonough shows an LED light fixture to School Board members, from left to right, Kelly Poole, Chair Kyla Cromer and Clark Menard. The fixtures were purchased locally from a Holly Springs company.

Maintenance Director Ronald Barnes, left, explains the benefits of LED lighting in the school, which is the first CCSD facility to completely transition to the cost-efficient lighting– which is expected to cut amperage usage by 80%. Listening are, from left to right, Principal Elliott Berman, Deputy Superintendent Trey Olson and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower.

Bill Sebring, Assistant Superintendent for Support Service and Facilities/Construction Management, stands in the lighter and brighter lobby of Sequoyah East at the former Dean Rusk MS and explains enhancements including more cost-efficient lighting.

The gym has been updated with a new air-conditioning system, which was added through the use of ceiling-mounted fabric ducts, which avoided $50,000 in duct work costs. The same technique is being considered for the former Teasley Middle School gym, currently in use by ACE Academy.

The front office has been rehabilitated with lighter colors including fresh paint, low-maintenance vinyl floors and an epoxy coating on cabinets and countertops — at a fraction of the cost of replacement.

Hickory Flat Community Celebrates Ribbon-Cutting of New Dean Rusk Middle School


Celebrating the ribbon cutting for the new/replacement Dean Rusk MS at a ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016 are, from left to right, School Board Member John Harmon, Vice Chair Patsy Jordan, Chair Kyla Cromer and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower.

The Hickory Flat community gathered on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016, to celebrate the ribbon cutting for the Cherokee County School District’s newest school: the replacement Dean Rusk Middle School.

The evening included remarks by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, Principal Cindy Cooper and eighth-grader Bradley Gordon, a special presentation by the PTSA and performances by the school’s eighth-grade symphonic band and chorus.

“For me tonight, it’s about opportunity and a legacy of excellence,” Dr. Hightower said to the audience, which included students, parents, volunteers, partners and current and retired teachers and administrators.  “This is a world-class facility… and we hope we’ve risen to your expectations.”

The 30-year-old former building required replacement in order to meet the needs of the growing community.  Construction of the $36.8 million school was funded by the Education SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), which is on the ballot this fall for continuation by voters.

The new school accommodates the current 1,480 students with room for growth, with numerous classrooms, wide hallways, a spacious gymnasium and cafetorium and additional technology, all designed to serve the new Grades 6-8 configuration.  Dean Rusk MS is the last middle school in CCSD to add Grade 6, a transition that gives sixth-graders greater opportunity to access advanced core classes and arts and career electives.

The school is named for the late U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who was born in Cherokee County and served from 1961-69 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

“Dean Rusk Middle School has a strong history of outstanding leadership, and I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of our past Principals,” Principal Cooper said.  “Our entire community is deeply appreciative for this new school and the opportunity to celebrate it tonight.”

Constructed by Womack, Lewis & Smith, Inc. using a CCSD prototypical middle-school design modified by KRH Architects, the 255,037-square-foot, two-story school is on 25.6 acres on East Cherokee Drive adjacent to the campuses of Hickory Flat ES and Sequoyah HS.

Its classrooms all feature touchscreen, flat-panel smart boards – the first school in CCSD with this feature.  Other technological innovations include the Global Learning Theatre video-conferencing classroom and Technology Lab classroom, with a 3D printer, green-screen video room and Lego robotics table among its special features.

In addition to CCSD’s safety standards, such as an electronic front-door “buzz-in” security system, the new design requires all visitor traffic to flow into the front office for an additional “security foyer” level of check-in and verification before entering the main hallway.  A polished concrete floor will save on maintenance and cleaning costs, paying for itself in a year’s time; and new features to become standard in CCSD facilities include tankless water heaters, electric hand dryers and T-5 light fixtures, all greatly reducing energy costs.

School Board Chair Kyla Cromer remarked that every student she met at the event told her how much they enjoy the new school, and her comments were echoed by eighth-grader Bradley Gordon.

“Students today are part of a new generation,” he said, noting that the technology now available to them improves how they learn.  That said, he added, the most important element of the school didn’t change.  “With all the changes, the school maintained what was best about it… the great staff.”

Following the tradition started with previous new/replacement middle schools, the new Dean Rusk MS campus features the colors of its Innovation Zone high school… which for the Sequoyah Zone are black and gold.  As part of the transition, Dean Rusk MS adopted the Chiefs as its mascot in keeping with Sequoyah HS.

PTSA President Monica Orrico presented the school with a dedication gift: two stained glass windows designed by JD’s Glassworks with the school’s new logo and colors.

“We’re beginning new traditions… as Chiefs!” she said.

The former Dean Rusk MS is being renovated to provide additional capacity to Sequoyah HS beginning in January… much like how the former Chapman Intermediate School now is used as “Etowah East” by Etowah HS.  The District and school are collaboratively developing a plan for which programs will be housed in this facility.