Board Briefs: Board Approves Annual Budget, Calls for Education SPLOST renewal

Board Briefs: Board Approves Annual Budget, Calls for Education SPLOST renewal

The Cherokee County School Board on Thursday, June 16, 2016 unanimously approved the Superintendent’s 2016-17 Annual Budget, which reduces class size, improves student services and further restores reserves, all without increasing the millage rate.

The Annual Budget, which includes a $359 Million day-to-day operating budget, fulfills School Board members’ top priorities, such as hiring 68 additional teachers to address student growth and further reduce class size, offering competitive pay and benefits to attract and retain the best workforce possible and investing in instructional resources and technology.  The millage rate remains steady at 19.45 mills.

“This is a long process – six months in the making – and we appreciate all of your work,” School Board Chair Kyla Cromer told Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower and his senior staff, who annually conduct a comprehensive, zero-sunset budget review.

The School District operates on a balanced budget with no operating debt, and Dr. Hightower emphasized that while the State government has reduced its “austerity budget cut,” CCSD still is not receiving $3.9 Million in State funds owed to its students; and while the local property tax digest is improving, revenue remains at 2007 levels… despite the increase of thousands of students since then.

“We are still coming out of the Recession,” Dr. Hightower said, noting that ineffective programs and spending continually are cut, and any proposed new spending is closely reviewed prior to approval.

The Board during its meeting also called for an election on Nov. 8 to continue the current 1-percent Education SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), which funds school construction, renovation and repairs; technology; land acquisition; school buses; and retiring bond debt for another five years.

The plan calls for continued use of the Board’s longtime system of bonding future Ed SPLOST revenue, which has been necessary to keep up with the community’s explosive population growth.  Specific projects planned include classroom additions for Woodstock Middle School and Mill Creek Middle School and an additional gym/multi-use space for Woodstock High School… all of which are needed to offset overcrowding.

“I also will continue to drive my staff to look for land because we’re going to continue to grow,” Dr. Hightower said.

During its regular meeting, the School Board also:

  • Recognized Johnston ES Principal Amy Graham as a “Top 10 in 10: Young Professionals to Watch” Award Winner;
  • Recognized Woodstock ES Assistant Principal Rachel Wasserman as the Georgia 2016 National Distinguished Assistant Principal;
  • Recognized Carmel ES and Liberty ES for winning international Character.org awards recognizing effective strategies to develop positive character in students;
  • Recognized Creekview High School Army JROTC Dual Exhibition Team as Regional Winners, State Champions and Nationally ranked competitors;
  • Recognized Liberty ES as the CCSD 2015-16 Elementary Science Olympiad Winners;
  • Recognized CCSD’s 2015-16 Young Georgia Authors Writing Competition Winners;
  • Recognized Creekview HS Team America Rocketry Challenge competitors and UAS4STEM National competition qualifiers;
  • Recognized CCSD’s Georgia PTA Reflections Winners;
  • Recognized State and Regional Champions from Creekview HS and Etowah HS;
  • Approved the first reading of School Board Policy changes;
  • Approved a hairnet bid as part of the School Nutrition cooperative program;
  • Approved the annual request for State assistance with developing a new/replacement Five-Year Facilities plan;
  • Approved special lease agreements;
  • Approved a $235,000 low bid from Womack, Lewis & Smith for construction of security foyers at eight elementary schools, the first phase of a three-phase project;
  • Approved out-of-state travel;
  • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;
  • Approved monthly capital outlay projects;
  • After meeting in executive session, approved monthly personnel recommendations, which included the appointment of George Brown as Coordinator of Vehicle Maintenance.