Message from CCSD: Social Media Posts About SHS

Message from CCSD: Social Media Posts About SHS

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Category : CCSD

On behalf of the Superintendent, please be advised that we are aware of social media posts by “Ray Andres” threatening “SHS.”  CCSD School Police investigated these posts on Feb. 21, 2018 and learned they refer to a high school in Ohio.  These posts are being circulated nationwide and causing similar alarm in other communities.  We take threats to the safety and security of our schools very seriously.  We appreciate the parents who contacted police immediately and directly to report these posts.

Message from the Superintendent: School Safety

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Category : CCSD

Please see the Feb. 16, 2018 message below from Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower:

Dear Parents,

Like many of you, I have spent the past two days reflecting on the horror that occurred on the campus of Stoneman Douglas High School and praying for Parkland and our country.

Such a tragedy is the greatest fear not only of every parent, but also of every educator and every Superintendent of Schools.

While our School District long has been a leader in ensuring school safety and security, we continuously evaluate what more we can do to protect our children and our employees.

Following the Sandy Hook school shooting tragedy, we established the Superintendent’s Ad Hoc Safety and Security Committee.  This group, made up of CCSD police and school operations leaders, Principals, parents and our community’s sheriff and municipal police chiefs, visited every one of our schools to audit security measures and procedures and reviewed all of our District safety policies and protocols.

The recommendations from that group have led to important improvements made over the last five years, such as the addition of more POST-certified officers to our CCSD School Police Department; the redesign of school entrances, and installation of electronic front-door buzzer and camera systems and security foyers; and the introduction of the School Messenger notification system being used to send you this message.

Knowing the past effectiveness of this Committee, I’ve called upon CCSD School Police Chief Mark Kissel, who serves as chairman of the group, to hold a series of meetings beginning next month.  We’ve notified Committee members today of our need for their assistance, and we appreciate their service.

The focus of these meetings will be to assess current and emerging school safety initiatives, determine the programmatic, operational and fiscal impact of CCSD’s safety and security protocols and practices, and provide me with recommendations this spring prior to the presentation of my recommended Annual Budget to the School Board.  If you have any input you would like to share with the Committee, please email it to Chief Communications Officer Barbara P. Jacoby at

As you know, three educators lost their lives protecting the children of Stoneman Douglas High School.  Our School District’s team – from the teachers in the classroom to the leaders on our School Board – cares about your children as if they were their own.  That care is what makes Parkland so heart-breaking for us and why I’ve called upon this Committee to take action.

Dr. Brian V. Hightower
Superintendent of Schools

School Board Members Visit Police Department’s New Headquarters

Category : CCSD

From left to right, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, CCSD School Police Lt. Jay Baker, School Board members Patsy Jordan and Kelly Poole, and CCSD School Police Chief Mark Kissel and Emergency Operations Facilitator Danielle Ross.

School Board Members on Wednesday, Dec. 13, visited the Cherokee County School District School Police Department’s new headquarters.

Board Chair Kyla Cromer and Board members Patsy Jordan and Kelly Poole took a tour of the offices, which relocated from downtown Canton and now share space with CCSD’s warehouse at 201 Mountain Brook Ct. in Holly Springs. The site provides a more central location for its officers, with quick access to Interstate 575, and also adds convenience for job applicants and volunteers who need fingerprint services.

Chief Mark Kissel led the tour, and Board members had the chance to speak with department leaders including Lt. Jay Baker and Emergency Operations Facilitator Danielle Ross.

The Board members and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, who also attended the tour, took the opportunity to thank the Department for its service during Friday’s inclement weather early dismissal to ensure all students arrived home safely as quickly as possible.

“Our Police Department’s POST-certified law enforcement officers serve and protect our students and employees every day, and play an important role in inclement weather situations. On Friday, they were communicating with county emergency management officials, coordinating dismissal, transporting students and assisting our schools in whatever manner they could,” Dr. Hightower said. “We greatly appreciate them and all they do to keep our community safe.”



Cherokee County School Board Continues School Safety Initiative

Category : Board Briefs | CCSD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Michele Harcarik

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

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

The School Board also:

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

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

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

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

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

• Approved the monthly capital outlay projects report; and,

• Approved 2017-18 employee tribunal hearing panel appointments.

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

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

Board Briefs: Cherokee County School Board Approves 2017-18 Budget

Category : Board Briefs

The School Board on Thursday, June 15, 2017, unanimously approved the Superintendent’s Recommended 2017-18 Annual Budget, which funds improvements in teaching and learning and safety and security without a millage rate increase.

The budget invests $382 Million into day-to-day operations, with 71% of that total in classroom instruction, including the continuing effort to decrease class size and the purchase of the first new instructional resources for elementary English and language arts classes in more than a decade.

Other major investments include reconfiguring Boston Elementary School’s entrance road to improve safety; retrofitting six more schools with security foyers limiting visitor access; purchasing 19 school buses to meet demand and replace aging vehicles; and piloting a new online GPS system that will allow parents to track the location of their child’s school bus. Operating reserves also are rising to $49 Million, with an additional $29 Million in the building fund reserves, as part of the District’s plan to further raise its credit rating.

“We appreciate the strong support of our School Board and community in meeting our mission of educating the emerging generation,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower. “We are dedicated to serving as responsible stewards of our community’s resources, and this budget shows our focus is exactly where it should be: on the children.”

While State funding increased to cover its portion of a 2% salary increase recommended by the Governor, rising mandated retirement system fees and student enrollment growth, the State continued its “austerity budget reduction” withholding of $4 Million in funds earned by the School District – funding that would have otherwise allowed for greater class size reduction.

Thursday’s meeting also included a presentation on the School District’s new teacher induction program, which will expand professional development, mentoring and collaboration opportunities and extend this support over three years. Data collected through surveys of new teachers hired in the last two years, as well as evaluation results and feedback from administrators, was used to develop the new model.

Dr. Hightower praised the work by curriculum and instruction leaders to develop the initiative, which he believes “will pay significant dividends with our younger teachers” and provide a model for other school districts statewide.

School Board Chair Kyla Cromer and School Board Member Clark Menard both complimented staff on their efforts, especially the program’s extended timeline and varied opportunities for growth and development.

“It’s going to be very helpful for those new teachers,” Ms. Cromer said.

Also on Thursday, the School Board approved the sale of a small parking lot at Hill Circle and Academy Street in downtown Canton to the highest bidder, Harris Development, for $50,000.

The School Board also:

• Recognized CCSD’s School Nutrition Program — winner of two USDA “Best Practices” State Awards and a National Turnip the Beet award;

• Recognized Indian Knoll Elementary School Media Center and Media Specialist Jennifer Lewis, Winner of the 2017 Exemplary Media Program Award, and E.T. Booth Middle School Media Center and Media Specialist Amanda Graves, Winner of the 2017 Exceptional Media Program Award;

• Recognized Teasley MS Special Education Teacher Dr. Jennifer Reynolds for selection as a “Top 10 in 10: Young Professionals to Watch” Award winner;

• Recognized 2016-17 Elementary Science Olympiad Winners;

• Recognized CCSD’s Georgia PTA Reflections Winners;

• Recognized State and Regional Champions including Cherokee HS track team members, Creekview HS boys’ golf team members and the AAAAAAA State Champion Etowah HS baseball team;

• Recognized Etowah High School Class of 2017 graduate Drew Waters — 2016-17 Gatorade Georgia Baseball Player of the Year and USA Today ALL-USA Baseball First Team member, who has been drafted by the Atlanta Braves;

• Approved the renewal of the Partnership Agreement with City of Canton;

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

• Approved monthly financial and Education SPLOST reports;

• Approved a bid for the annual hairnet purchase through the Georgia Educational Cooperative purchasing program in which CCSD School Nutrition participates;

• 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 a permanent easement to the City of Ball Ground for a new streetscape project including sidewalk installation and maintenance;

• Approved monthly personnel recommendations; and,

• Approved the School Board’s annual governance training plan.

School Board Members Mike Chapman and John Harmon were not present for the meeting.

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

CCSD to Host National Advanced School Resource Officer Course June 19-21

Category : CCSD

NASRO logoThe Cherokee County School District School Police Department next week will host a national training program for officers from across the state!

In cooperation with the Georgia Association of Secondary School Law Enforcement Executives (GASSLEE), CCSD will host the National Association of School Resource Officers’ (NASRO) Advanced School Resource Officer Course from Monday, June 19, through Wednesday, June 21, at Teasley Middle School in Canton.

Sessions will be from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day, with CCSD School Police Chief Mark E. Kissel, President of GASSLEE, giving opening remarks on Monday. Capt. Joe Carter of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, past president of NASRO, is the course instructor.

“As President of the Georgia Association of Secondary School Law Enforcement Executives, I believe this program reflects the professionalism of those officers assigned to work within their respective schools to provide a safe and secure environment for teaching and learning,” Chief Kissel said.

NASRO, the world’s leader in school-based policing, serves school-based law enforcement officers, school administrators, and school security/safety professionals working as partners to protect students, faculty and staff, and their school community. The organization’s mission is to provide the highest quality of training to school-based law enforcement officers in order to promote safer schools and safer kids.

The advanced course builds upon the Basic School Resource Officer course approved by Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council; CCSD School Police Officers all have attended and successfully completed the basic course. The training offered in Canton will cover numerous topics including threat assessment, critical incident planning and technology and social media.

Several local businesses have provided door prizes and donations for the event, and their sponsorship is greatly appreciated: AMC Riverstone 15, Big Woods Goods, Chick-fil-A of Canton, Credit Union of Georgia, Killer Creek Harley-Davidson, Northside Hospital Cherokee and The Home Depot.

CCSD Salutes School Nurses on National School Nurse Day

Category : CCSD

National School Nurse Day Collage

While a Band-aid and a little TLC can go a long way, the needs presented in Cherokee County School District school clinics every day require much more of the professionals who staff them.

Today is National School Nurse Day, and we hope you’ll join us in thanking the school nurses who keep our students healthy, safe and ready to learn.

The District’s team of 43 school nurses serve all of CCSD’s schools and centers, and provide nearly 42,000 students as well as 4,500 full-time and 1,000 part-time employees with services ranging from first-aid to emergency response.

School nurses dispense medication to students, care for medically fragile children and stand ready to administer CPR, an EpiPen or an AED in a life-saving situation to anyone on campus. They screen children for health concerns, teach about proper hygiene and wellness and raise awareness in school communities about the benefits of preventative care.

“School nurses save lives,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “We appreciate their service, their professionalism and their commitment to continuous improvement… but most importantly, we appreciate how much they care.”

CCSD School Nurses
CCSD Lead Nurse Gwen Chambers, 1988
CCSD Lead Nurse Jami Stefano, 2011
Sherrie Smith, ACE Academy, 2007
Betty Miller, Arnold Mill ES, 2010
Sandra McFarland, Avery ES, 2000
Kim Bishop, Ball Ground ES STEM Academy, 2013
Rebekah May, Bascomb ES, 2015
Amber Thayer, Boston ES, 2007
Lisha Smith, Canton ES STEM Academy, 2006
Stefanie Schoeller, Carmel ES, 2002
Denise Blackwell, Cherokee HS, 2012
Joy Harrison, Clark Creek ES STEM Academy, 2013
Teresa Tatum, Clayton ES, 1995
Carol Reed, Creekland MS, 2016
Amanda Hansell, Creekview HS, 2014
Christine Lynch, Dean Rusk MS, 2015
Wanda Ligon, E.T. Booth MS, 2002
Cathy Alexander, Etowah HS, 2002
Sharon Sullivan, Free Home ES, 2004
Dana Oden, Freedom MS, 2000
Kristy Hough, Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy, 2015
Mariellen Metraw, Hickory Flat ES, 2000
Renee Michael, Holly Springs ES STEM Academy, 2014
Maria Hicks, Indian Knoll ES, 2011
Laure Carroll, Johnston ES, 2008
Ivanka Ivanova, Johnston Preschool Center, 2015
Allison Rhodes, Knox ES, 2011
Charlene Dalfonso, Liberty ES, 2005
Resa Breitbart, Little River ES, 2005
Pam Tomeny, Macedonia ES, 2008
Thania Molina, Mill Creek MS, 2016
Janet Jarvis, Mountain Road ES, 1996
Vicki McGill, Oak Grove ES Fine Arts Academy, 1995
Deana Fronebarger, R.M. Moore ES, 2001
Tricia Griffith, Ralph Bunche Center, 2015
Kim Bearden, River Ridge HS, 2005
Erin Krantz, Sequoyah HS, 2015
Sue Dyer, Sixes ES, 2003
Kathy Thomas, Teasley MS, 2015
Dawn Beasley, Tippens Education Center, 2007
Tayler Cahill, Woodstock ES, 2015
Vickie Hyde, Woodstock HS, 2008
Traci Baggett, Woodstock MS, 2015

School Board Hears Budget Forecast Including Enrollment Growth Projections

Woodstock High School senior A.J. Cox is congratulated by the School Board, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower and Marla Price of Waste Management as the winner of the 2017 Waste Management/Pine Bluff Landfill Scholarship of $5,000. The scholarship was presented by Waste Management, a CCSD Partner, at the May 4, 2017 School Board meeting.

The School Board on Thursday, May 4, 2017, heard a budget forecast from the Superintendent of Schools that funds student enrollment growth and continues class size reductions.

The highlights outlined during the Strategic Work Session will be followed up by release of the full recommended Annual Budget later this month, with public hearings scheduled for June 6 and 15 and a vote to approve the budget on June 15.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower noted the proposed budget does not call for a millage rate increase, but sustains CCSD’s financial focus on the classroom, with the hiring of 61 teachers and school-based staff to address projected enrollment growth and continued class size reduction.

Even with an anticipated 572 additional students, CCSD plans to lower class size further to an average of 20 students in kindergarten through third-grade classes and 26 in fourth- and fifth-grade… significantly smaller, on average, than allowed class sizes of 26 for kindergarten, 28 for Grades 1-3 and 35 for Grades 4-5.

Dr. Hightower said this trend is very impressive given that the State still has not restored $4 million in “austerity budget reductions,” with limited new funding earmarked by the Governor specifically for teacher salary increases. Despite financial constraints, the proposed budget for CCSD not only meets the cost-of-living salary increase in the State’s base compensation for teachers, but also extends it to all eligible employees, increases the local supplement for a true 2% raise and funds longevity step increases.

“This is very important,” Assistant Superintendent for Financial Management Ken Owen said of the significant investment in employee compensation, noting that salary is just one piece of the pie paid by CCSD, as health insurance, retirement system and other related costs funded by the District continue to soar. But, he added, it’s an expense that school districts cannot shortchange. “A teacher hiring shortage is looming ahead.”

Due to CCSD’s historical record of strong compensation packages for employees, even during the recent Recession, the District has not faced challenges in hiring like some other metro school systems. The School Board on Thursday also received an excerpt from the forthcoming Financial Facts report, which is produced by CCSD staff to provide employees and the community with budget highlights (available online here), and further details these personnel costs.

The Superintendent shared several other hints about his recommended Annual Budget now being finalized including additional investments in safety and security and learning resources.

The budget calls for funding to retrofit six more schools with security foyers that further regulate access by visitors. Transportation will see two major improvements: the previously announced plan to transition to smaller Special Education preschool buses that are lower to the ground and easier to drive, and the introduction of a new GPS system for all CCSD buses that will allow parents to track their child’s bus using an online tool.

A major investment of $3 million will upgrade CCSD’s English and Language Arts elementary school instructional resources for the first time in a decade, mirroring the update of math resources completed this school year.

Cherokee High School senior Zachary Quiros is congratulated by the School Board, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower and Oak Leaf Church Pastor Will Goodwin as the winner of the 2017 Oak Leaf Church Scholarship of $1,000. The scholarship was presented by the Church, a CCSD Partner, at the May 4, 2017 School Board meeting.

The School Board also:

• Heard plans by the Superintendent to introduce a new “Superintendent’s Game Changer Award,” which annually will recognize four outstanding employees or supporters who have made significant contributions to instructional excellence. The inaugural awards will be presented later this month;

• Heard a presentation from Student Delegate Isabelle Riddle of Sequoyah HS, who this week was named one of only 160 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the nation!

• Recognized Sixes Elementary School as a Common Sense Certified School for Digital Citizenship;

• Recognized CCSD’s 2017 Georgia Scholars;

• Recognized CCSD’s 2016-17 Governor’s Honors Finalists;

• Recognized Nathan Baker of Etowah HS for winning the Award of Excellence from the Georgia Department of Education;

• Recognized CCSD’s 2016-17 Regional Science and Engineering Fair Winners;

• Recognized CCSD seventh-graders who earned Grand or State recognition from Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP);

• Recognized CCSD’s Tome Student Literacy Society Students named State Champions;

• Recognized Region and State athletic and arts champions including the Cherokee HS Region Champions girls basketball team and Sequoyah HS State Literary competition winners;

• Recognized Cherokee HS senior Zachary Quiros as recipient of the 2017 Oak Leaf Church Scholarship of $1,000;

• Recognized Woodstock HS senior A.J. Cox as recipient of the 2017 Waste Management/Pine Bluff Landfill Scholarship of $5,000;

• Approved the first reading of updates to personnel and student harassment policies;

• Approved monthly financial and Education SPLOST reports;

• Approved out-of-state travel;

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

• Approved annual plan for improvement of career, technical and agricultural education and one-year funding application for submission to the State; and,

• Approved monthly personnel recommendations.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 18, 2017

Cherokee Sheriff’s Office Seeking Crossing Guard Applicants

The Cherokee County School District greatly appreciates the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office crossing guards who ensure students safely access school campuses every day!

The Sheriff’s Office is advertising for crossing guards and information about the opportunity is posted below and on

PDF Flier for Crossing Guard Job Posting


CCSD Celebrates Second Annual Bus Driver Appreciation Week Breakfast


Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Community Development Officer Janet Read, right, and Cherokee County School District Transportation Director Jim Georges are ready to welcome guests to CCSD’s second annual Bus Driver Appreciation Week breakfast.

The Cherokee County School District Transportation Department on Wednesday celebrated its second annual Bus Driver Appreciation Week breakfast.


Bus driver Alex Lockhart selects his breakfast items.

The School District’s 496 bus drivers, monitors, specialists, technicians and administrators were treated to breakfast provided by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at CCSD’s bus shops in Holly Springs and Woodstock.


The School District’s 496 bus drivers, monitors, specialists, administrators and technicians were treated to breakfast provided by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at CCSD’s bus shops in Holly Springs and Woodstock.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Community Development Officer Janet Read gave sponsor remarks, thanking bus drivers for their service. School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, Deputy Superintendent Trey Olson and Transportation Director Jim Georges also shared messages of appreciation.

Everyone in attendance received a gift bag, with gifts provided by community partners including the Chick-fil-A restaurants of Cherokee County, Menchie’s at Riverstone Plaza, Northside Hospital-Cherokee, Roly Poly in Towne Lake and Stars and Strikes Family Entertainment Center. Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q provided door prizes.

CCSD bus drivers every day transport 29,000 students along routes totaling 20,000 miles. In addition to the District’s event, many CCSD schools and PTAs organized special activities to thank bus drivers for all that they do.


School Board Chair Kyla Cromer shares her appreciation for the bus drivers and how they care for ‘our community’s most precious cargo.’


Deputy Superintendent Trey Olson shares words of thanks.


Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Community Development Officer Janet Read shares her memories of the drivers who transported her children to school and about the trust community members place in them.