Cherokee County School Board Reviews Proposed 2017-18 Budget

Cherokee County School Board Reviews Proposed 2017-18 Budget

The School Board on Thursday, May 18, 2017, in preparation for next month’s vote, reviewed the Superintendent’s Recommended 2017-18 Annual Budget, which not only increases the District’s investment in classroom instruction, but also its reserves savings.

Following a preview earlier this month, the School Board spent the business portion of Thursday’s meeting diving into the details of the budget, which includes $382 Million for day-to-day operations, with 86% of that total funding salaries and benefits for CCSD’s 4,500 full-time and 1,000 part-time and at-will employees.

The School Board will hold public hearings on the budget at 11:30 a.m. on June 6 and 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on June 15, with the budget up for a vote at the 7 p.m. regular meeting on June 15; the hearings and the budget all will be held in the CCSD Downtown Center school board auditorium.

The budget, which does not call for a millage increase, directs 71% of day-to-day operating funds to classroom instruction, with new hiring in preparation for anticipated student enrollment growth, continued lowering of average class sizes and new instructional resources for elementary English and language arts classes.

“That’s spectacular,” Assistant Superintendent of Financial Management Ken Owen said of the percentage directed to classrooms, noting it’s a “very tight budget,” but entirely focused on the priorities outlined by the School Board.

State funding did increase, Mr. Owen said, but those monies only covered the State portion of a 2% salary increase recommended by the Governor, hikes in required retirement system fees and costs associated with rises in student enrollment. The State’s continued “austerity budget reduction” withholding of $4 Million owed to the District based on the education funding formula is a pinch that still hurts.

“It’s a significant reduction,” Mr. Owen said of the $4 Million. “We could really use that money to fund more teachers.”

The total budget calls for investing $18.5 Million through the building fund in construction, renovation and technology projects, including the renovation of the Boston Elementary School entrance to ease traffic congestion and the replacement of older computers and devices used by teachers and students. Six more schools will be retrofit with security foyers to tighten visitor security, 19 school buses will be added to the fleet for growth and retirement of older vehicles and a new online GPS system will allow parents to track the location of their child’s school bus.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said the budget also works toward his goal of earning a triple-A credit rating for the District by increasing reserves – the operating budget’s savings account, and paying off bond debt incurred by the rapid construction plan required by the county’s incredible growth over the last two decades.

“We really want that perfect credit rating,” Dr. Hightower said, noting it will greatly reduce costs for insurance and borrowing and enhance overall financial stability. “Setting aside more reserve funds and staying focused on retiring debt may keep us from moving forward on every innovation we’d like to see in our schools, but it’s just as important an investment.”

To that end, the budget calls for shifting half a mill in the tax rate from operating to debt service, as well as increasing the proposed operating reserves to $49 Million, with an additional $29 Million in the building fund reserves.

The Board during its meeting Thursday also approved monthly personnel recommendations including the appointment of Nate Cline, currently a teacher on special assignment to assist with administration at Etowah High School, to serve as an Assistant Principal at Creekland Middle School next school year.

In a surprise announcement, Dr. Hightower presented the third of his four inaugural “Superintendent’s Game Changer Awards,” with the recognition for Instructional Advocacy presented to Lisa-Marie Haygood, a longtime outstanding advocate for CCSD schools as a PTA volunteer and leader at the local, regional and State level including past service as Georgia PTA President.

The School Board also:

• Heard presentations from Student Advisor Joseph Henderson of ACE Academy and Cherokee HS Student Delegate Julia Kochansky on their experience serving and their post-graduation plans;

• Dr. Kecia Ray, Executive Director for the Center for Digital Education, presented to CCSD and Assistant Superintendent of Technology Bobby Blount a plaque in recognition of CCSD being named for the 12th time to the nation’s “Top 10” of large school systems effectively using technology in education;

• Recognized Holly Springs ES STEM Academy teacher Lauren Pittman and her students for their featured role in Microsoft national campaign and commercial;

• Recognized Woodstock ES teacher Kristen Brooks as an Apple Distinguished Educator;

• Recognized Creekview HS Athletic Director/Assistant Principal Dr. Kevin Higgins as an inductee into Georgia Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame;

• Recognized Etowah HS junior Joseph Young as winner of a 2017 Junior Travel Award for Outstanding Achievement on National Spanish Examination;

• Recognized 2016-17 Social Studies Fair District, Regional and State Winners;

• Recognized 2016-17 Young Georgia Authors Writing Competition Winners;

• Recognized Avery ES as 2016-17 Elementary School County Academic Bowl Team Champions;

• Recognized State and Regional Champions

• Recognized 2016-17 Student Advisor to School Board and Student Delegates for their service;

• Recognized recipients of 2017 Aramark Education Scholarships;

• Approved a Partnership Agreement with Tri-State Communications (which includes WLJA 101.1 FM and Enjoy! Cherokee magazine) that includes Student of the Day and Game of the Week recognitions, as well as a public service campaign to raise awareness of bus traffic laws and sharing the road safely with school buses;

• Adopted a House Bill 306 Resolution to move forward with the State Legislature’s approval to change the School Board compensation model effective January 2019;

• Approved the final 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 monthly capital outlay projects report;

• Approved special lease agreements;

• Approved annual update of 2017-18 Student Discipline Code; and,

• Met in Executive Session to review a student discipline matter.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cherokee County School Board Appoints New and Reassigned Assistant Principals and Administrators

The Cherokee County School Board on Thursday, April 20, 2017, approved the appointment of new and reassigned assistant principals and other administrators for the 2017-18 school year.

The list of appointments is the final piece in the School District’s three-month process to fill leadership positions due to retirements, promotions and growth.

Dr. Hightower praised School Operations and Personnel Management staff for their diligence and dedication in completing the significant hiring and promotion effort. The group of new leaders, he said, is “simply phenomenal.”

The new and reassigned administrators approved Thursday are:

• Dr. Amanda Ruiz: Supervisor, Middle School/High School Curriculum
• Steven Payne: Coordinator Curriculum Support (Social Studies/Career, Technical and Agricultural Education)
• Joy Silk: Coordinator Curriculum Support (Digital Content)
• Angie Goff: Transportation Coordinator of Routing
• Lt. Jay Baker: Lieutenant, School Police Department
• Connie Henderson: Coordinator of Payroll
• Angela Greene: Assistant Principal, Arnold Mill ES
• Michelle Calkins: Assistant Principal, Boston ES
• Lauren Roach: Assistant Principal, Canton ES STEM Academy
• Rachel Wasserman: Assistant Principal, Carmel ES
• Susan Bruno: Assistant Principal, Clark Creek ES STEM Academy
• Kerry Estep: Assistant Principal, Hickory Flat ES
• Jennifer Landry: Assistant Principal, Indian Knoll ES
• Tammie Anderson: Assistant Principal, Knox ES
• Emily Spira: Assistant Principal, Knox ES
• Patricia Nay: Assistant Principal, Macedonia ES
• Yolanda Torres: Assistant Principal, Woodstock ES
• Leah Bleisath: Assistant Principal, Creekland MS
• Nicholas Zomer: Assistant Principal, Creekland MS
• Dr. Dianne Steinbeck: Assistant Principal, Dean Rusk MS
• Leigh Rogers: Assistant Principal, E.T. Booth MS
• Lawrence Gluckson: Assistant Principal, Freedom MS
• Dr. Lea Campos: Assistant Principal, Woodstock MS
• Charles Ingham: Assistant Principal, Cherokee HS
• Dr. Judy Wright: Assistant Principal, Cherokee HS
• Ken Nix: Assistant Principal, Etowah HS
• Cassandra Mathious: Assistant Principal, Etowah HS
• Stephanie Barber: Assistant Principal, River Ridge HS
• Stephanie Norris: Assistant Principal, River Ridge HS
• Mike Santoro: Assistant Principal, River Ridge HS
• Heather Phillips: Assistant Principal, Sequoyah HS
• Chris Bennett: Assistant Principal, Woodstock HS
• Dan Gagnon: Assistant Principal, Woodstock HS
• Nancy Henson: Assistant Principal, Woodstock HS
• Lori Etheridge: Teacher on Special Assignment, Mountain Road ES
• Nate Cline: Teacher on Special Assignment, R.M. Moore ES

During the meeting, the School Board also heard a positive report from Citigroup Global Markets, which was approved to issue and sell bonds for voter-approved Education SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) uses, and from Davenport & Co. financial consultants.

The presentation reported that CCSD’s recently improved credit rating and already strong reputation made for a successful bond sale, noting that the numerous interested buyers allowed for the interest rate to be lowered to 2.56% overall, while yielding $21.8 Million in funding for SPLOST projects.

The School Board also heard a presentation on a new type of school bus that has been successfully piloted this school year and will be proposed for expansion next school year.

The “Type A” bus, which is smaller and lower to the ground, will be used for CCSD’s special needs preschool children. The buses are equipped with seat belts, air-conditioning, a lower first step and all standard bus safety features.

“These are built like a bus and perform like a bus,” Transportation Director Jim Georges said, noting the “Type A” buses will be easier to drive and run on regular unleaded gas instead of diesel.

The proposed order of seven buses, which will be incorporated into the recommended budget presented to the School Board for review next month, will cost $423,143 – which is $224,876 less than the same purchase of traditional buses.

The School Board also:

• Announced CCSD’s observation of April as the Month of the Military Child and Friday, April 21, as the related Purple Up Day;

• Heard presentations from Student Delegates Kayla Brader of Woodstock HS and Meghan Hines of Etowah HS;

• During Public Participation, the Cherokee Chorale, a CCSD Partner, presented $500 grants to each of CCSD’s seven middle school chorus programs, as well as a gift to the family of the late E.T. Booth MS chorus teacher Kevin White;

• Recognized Creekview High School senior Austin Miles for achieving a perfect ACT score;

• Recognized E.T. Booth Middle School Media Specialist Amanda Graves as winner of the 2017 Georgia Library Media Association Intellectual Freedom Award;

• Recognized Clark Creek ES STEM Academy as 2017 Georgia winner of the Program Excellence Award Presented by the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association;

• Recognized CCSD Counselors of the Year;

• Recognized CCSD 2017 Spelling Bee Winner Sharon Pradeep of Little River ES;

• Recognized 2017 Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl first-place District, Regional and Divisional Winners;

• Recognized CCSD Region and State Technology Fair Winners;

• Recognized Clark Creek ES STEM Academy’s BrickMasters, a FIRST Lego League Robotics Team, as winners of the Research Presentation Award at State Finals;

• Recognized Region and State athletic champions;

• 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 the surplus of a small parking lot adjacent to the former Building B; and,

• Met in executive session to review a real estate matter and litigation, but took no action upon returning to open session.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 4, 2017; Strategic Work Session at 6 p.m.

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

• 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


• 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

School Board Proclaims September as National Attendance Awareness Month

According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than 6.5 million students missed 15 or more days – almost a full month – of school during the 2013-14 academic year. During that school year, students were chronically absent in every state, and nearly 500 school districts reported that 30 percent or more of their students missed at least three weeks of school.

Attendance Awareness Month

While the Cherokee County School District maintains strong overall student attendance rates (+96% average daily attendance over the past ten years), the attendance of every student every day is critically important to their individual success, as well as the overall continued high performance of the School District and the Cherokee County community at large.

The Georgia Department of Education is calling upon Superintendents of Schools and School Boards to make the promotion of attendance a priority including through support of National Attendance Awareness Month, which is observed in September.

The Cherokee County School Board unanimously approved a proclamation at its September 1, 2016 meeting.  Here is the language of the proclamation:

“Whereas, September is observed as National Attendance Awareness Month to support a growing national movement of school leaders looking beyond average daily attendance and truancy numbers to identify and address the challenges that keep students from getting to school every day; and

Whereas, it is fitting and proper for the Cherokee County School District to observe this month as a continuation of its focus on continuously increasing student achievement; and

Whereas, adoption of a proclamation, along with other promotion by the Cherokee County School District, will raise awareness of the importance of every student attending school every day;

NOW, THEREFORE, we, the Cherokee County School Board, do hereby proclaim September as National Attendance Awareness Month in the Cherokee County School District.”

In addition to this proclamation, CCSD will be promoting the month in the community through its various communications platforms.


School Board Takes Stand Against State “Opportunity School District” School Takeover Plan

Here is a printable factsheet about OSD.

The Cherokee County School Board on Thursday, September 1, 2016, took a stand against the State’s “Opportunity School District” school takeover plan by unanimously approving a resolution opposing the constitutional amendment on ballots this fall.

School Board Chair Kyla Cromer said she’s “proud” that the Board stepped up even though CCSD currently has no schools on the so-called “failing” list that would trigger a takeover by a Governor-appointed czar should the amendment pass.

“The big part of this in my mind is that as a member of this School Board our job is to protect the children of Cherokee County,” Ms. Cromer said.  “And I see no benefit in this to them.”

The School Board has heard staff presentations over the last year outlining how the amendment could potentially affect CCSD, especially as the metric used to trigger takeover is constantly changing and targets Title I schools that serve the community’s most at-risk students.

Board members also have raised concerns about the amendment usurping local control, as it removes the oversight of the locally elected School Board and would seize assets communities have voted to fund through sales tax collections.

Here is the language of the resolution:

“WHEREAS, on November 5, 2015, the Cherokee County School Board (“School Board”) unanimously approved its 2016 Legislative Program which included as a priority, “Align current and future legislative initiatives (e.g., Governor’s proposed Opportunity School District Constitutional Amendment) with State Constitutional provisions regarding local control and management of public schools, rather than usurping locally-elected School Boards’ authority;” and,

WHEREAS, the School Board supports the authority of the State’s local boards of education to manage and control the operation of the local public schools, opposing any legislation that attempts to override the constitutional authority of locally-elected boards to make educational decisions for their communities; and,

WHEREAS, in November 2016, a State Constitutional amendment will be included on the ballot, which would, if approved, give the State authority to take control from certain Georgia schools and create a State-operated school district; and,

WHEREAS, if approved, local control will be eliminated and schools that have been determined as “failing” by the State may be placed into an “Opportunity School District;” and,

WHEREAS, if approved, the administration of schools placed in the “Opportunity School District” would be overseen by a State-appointed Superintendent, to be confirmed by the Senate, with authority to waive State board of education rules, regulations, policies, procedures or provisions; and,

WHEREAS, if approved, facilities of qualifying schools shall come under control of the “Opportunity School District,” where the “Opportunity School District” Superintendent may repurpose the facility for use by an education service provider; and,

WHEREAS, if approved, qualifying schools may be subject to any of the following intervention models, as determined by the “Opportunity School District” Superintendent:

(1) Direct management of the qualifying school by the “Opportunity School District;” or,

(2) Shared governance of the qualifying school by the “Opportunity School District” and the local board of education pursuant to a contract in which the local board of education operates the school and the “Opportunity School  District” Superintendent has the authority to direct changes to be made at the school; or,

(3) Reconstitution of the qualifying school as an “Opportunity School District” charter school in which the “Opportunity School District” works in collaboration with the State Charter Schools Commission to build capacity of petitioning governing boards and charter school applications to establish a charter that will be approved by the State Charter Schools Commission; or,

(4) Closure of the qualifying school which is not enrolled at full capacity and reassigning the students to a non-qualifying school within the local school system. School closure shall be the intervention of last resort; and,

WHEREAS, if approved, the total allotment of state and federal funds to the local school system in which a qualifying school is located will be calculated as otherwise provided in enabling legislation of this title with an ensuing reduction equivalent to the amount of funds appropriated to any such schools; and,

WHEREAS, other state takeover efforts (e.g., Louisiana and Tennessee) have not proven to be successful and have not improved student achievement results; and,

WHEREAS, taking away local control, diminishing resources, and making efforts to shift the governance of local schools, will do just the opposite for the successful outcomes of Cherokee County School District students, and will not result in the needed infusion of state resources for the full support of Local Educational Agencies; and,

WHEREAS, ensuring real opportunity for every student means providing struggling schools with resources that attract the best faculty and staff, improved access to health and social services, and enhanced supports for academic enrichment opportunities;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Cherokee County School Board opposes creation of a state-run school district, otherwise known as the “Opportunity School District,” and that we commit to fully educate our community about the issues raised by this proposed Amendment.”

The School Board also heard a presentation on the process underway to develop an instructional framework for CCSD, which will create standards for how teachers design instruction and assess student learning.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower told the Board that, while they’re hearing about many projects underway to improve CCSD, “as far as impacting the classroom, this will have the most impact.”

The School Board also took the following action:

  • Heard a presentation on The Smile Run to be held on October 8 at First Baptist Canton in memory of late Ralph Bunche Center preschooler Christian Egner, with proceeds to benefit the Center;
  • Recognized Sequoyah HS Marketing Teacher Kari Palmer for winning an international entrepreneurship education program award;
  • Recognized students Lukas Freeman of Creekview HS and Chandler Stevenson of Freedom MS Students for Georgia 4-H Achievements;
  • Approved a proclamation in honor of Constitution Week;
  • Approved a proclamation recognizing September as National Attendance Awareness Month;
  • Approved renewal of a Partnership Agreement with the City of Ball Ground and a new Partnership Agreement with Raising Giants baseball program;
  • Approved the final reading of technical modifications to School Board Policies; School Board Member Clark Menard successfully proposed adding the lack of available locker space to the list of indictors that a school is overcrowded;
  • Approved the issuance of a Tax Anticipation Notice;
  • 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 monthly personnel recommendations including the appointment of Andy Hall as an Assistant Principal at River Ridge High School where he currently serves as a Teacher on Special Assignment;
  • Continued planning for required annual School Board Member training;
  • Approved a contract with Ninth District Opportunity, Inc. for Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2017; and,
  • Met in Executive Session for Board Self-Evaluation.

Next School Board meeting: 7 p.m. Oct. 13, 2016;  6 p.m. Strategic Work Session

CCSD Names 2016-17 Student Advisor, Student Delegates to School Board

The Cherokee County School District has named the 2016-17 Student Advisor and Student Delegates to the School Board.

The School Board has included a Student Advisor position on its board since 1999, and for the past six years, a Student Delegate from each high school also has been selected. These students serve for one year to give input and feedback to the School Board; the advisor role is rotated among the county’s high schools.

This year’s Student Advisor is Joseph Henderson of ACE Academy. The Student Delegates are: of Cherokee High School, Julia Kochansky; of Creekview High School, Parker Quarles; of Etowah High School, Meghan Hines; of River Ridge High School, Jordan Mason; of Sequoyah High School, Isabelle Riddle; and of Woodstock High School, Kayla Brader.

The students will begin their service at the School Board meeting on August 11.

Students selected to serve as Student Advisor or Student Delegates share common traits: they excel in the classroom, often ranking in the top 10 percent of their class and earning titles like valedictorian; they are involved in their school, often participating in numerous clubs, sports and organizations; and they seek out opportunities to serve and lead.



HINES Meghan


MASON Jordan


RIDDLE Isabelle


ACE Academy, Joseph Henderson

  • Recipient of: Algebra Excellence Award
  • Member of: ACE Academy Student Council, Boy Scouts of America – Troop 241 (Life Scout, Order of the Arrow) and Flag Honor Guard
  • Volunteers for: Special Olympics, Etowah River Clean-Up Project, Georgia National Cemetery (flag and wreath placements)


Cherokee HS, Julia Kochansky

  • Recipient of: Superintendent’s Key Scholar Award, Honor Roll, Georgia Scholar, Optimist Club Essay Contest – First Place, National Latin Exam – Gold (Latin I, II, and III), Spirit of Learning Award, Academic Excellence Certificate, Academic Letter, Lamp of Knowledge, Georgia Certificate of Merit, Governor’s Honors Program Nominee, Student of the Month, National AP Scholar, AP Scholar with Distinction, GHSA State Literary Competition Essay Writing – First Place Divisional, Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Conference and Leadership 56, Mock Trial Lawyer Award, Daughters of the American Revolution Youth Citizenship Award
  • Member of: National Honor Society, Alpha Gamma, Beta Club, Mock Trial, Leadership 56 (Sophomore and Junior Year)
  • Volunteers for: Fernbank Museum Future Urban Naturalist Program

Creekview HS, Parker Quarles

  • Recipient of: Academic Letter, Scholar Athlete, Superintendent’s Key Scholar Award, UGA Certificate of Merit, AP Scholar and All-County Lacrosse
  • Member of: National Honor Society, Habitat for Humanity, Beta Club, Student Government, DECA and FBLA
  • Volunteers for: Summer lacrosse coach

Etowah HS, Meghan Hines

  • Recipient of: Academic Letter, Superintendent’s Key Scholar Award, SGA Student of the Month and National Spanish Exam Bronze Award
  • Member of: Student Government (Student Body President, Senior Class President, Junior Class President, Sophomore Class Treasurer and Freshman Class Secretary) Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta, Nation English Honor Society, National Honor Society, Flight Club and Competitive Dance
  • Volunteers for: Church mission trips and ministry, Shop with an Eagle, SGA Elementary Reading Program

River Ridge HS, Jordan Mason

  • Recipient of: Superintendent’s Key Scholar Award, Presidential Community Service Award and Physical Fitness and Health Award
  • Member of: National Honor Society, Teen Leadership Cherokee Class of 2015, Student Government (2017 Vice President), Knights of the Round Table, Beta Club, Metro Atlanta Regional Commission and Chick-fil-a Leadership Program
  • Volunteers for: Big/Little High School Mentorship Program Coordinator and Crusading Knights Service Club

Sequoyah HS, Isabelle Riddle

  • Recipient of: AP Scholar with Distinction, PSAT Academic Achievement Award, Academic Letter, Ayn Rand Institute Essay Contest – Second Place, Quest Bridge College Prep Scholar, One National Dance Competition – Second Place Overall, Teen Leadership Cherokee Most Outstanding Leader Award, Grant Recipient for “Doggie Dash” Service Project and PTA Reflections Contest State Winner
  • Member of: National Honor Society President, Student Government (Treasurer), Beta Club (Honorary Member), Fellowship of Christian Athletes Leadership Council, Model Atlanta Regional Commission
  • Volunteers for: H.F.D.A Gives Back (service club founder) and MUST Ministries (Summer Lunch Coordinator)

Woodstock HS, Kayla Brader

  • Recipient of: Academic Letter, Gold Medal, National Spanish Exam – Silver Medal and Certificate, WHS PTSA Essay Scholarship 2015-16 Winner, Governor’s Honors Program Nominee and Varsity Letter in Track
  • Member of: Wolverine Marching Band, National Honors Society, Science National Honor Society, Beta Club, Model United Nations, Women in Science and Engineering (President), Spanish National Honors Society (Past President) and Youth Community Board at Transfiguration Catholic Church
  • Volunteers for: Domestic violence shelter and Transfiguration Catholic Church

Board Briefs: School Board Updates Mission Statement, Motto

2015-16 Judy Johnson Scholarship Winners

Sequoyah High School senior Erin Wehunt, left, and Cherokee High School senior Megan Johnson, right, were recognized by CCSD School Nutrition Supervisor Tina Farmer, center, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, far right, and the School Board as recipients of the 2015-16 Judy Johnson Memorial Scholarship presented by CCSD’s School Nutrition Association.

The Cherokee County School Board on Thursday, July 21, 2016, approved the second reading of School Board Policy changes, which included the establishment of an updated mission statement and a new motto.

The new mission statement is: “We, the School Board of the Cherokee County School District, are committed to educating the emerging generation through learning environments designed to increase the performance of all students.” The new motto is: “Educating the Emerging Generation.”

The Board also approved monthly personnel recommendations, which included the appointment of Donna Bertram, a longtime CCSD teacher and administrator most recently serving as Assistant Principal at Carmel Elementary School, to lead Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy as its next Principal. She is succeeding Dr. Dianne Steinbeck, who will serve in a grant writer role for the CCSD Office of Educational Programs.

Julie Peppers, a longtime CCSD teacher most recently assigned to Bascomb Elementary School, was appointed to fill the newly vacated Assistant Principal spot at Carmel Elementary School.

The Board also took the first step toward expanding its social worker program to meet the explosive student enrollment growth experienced by CCSD over the last two decades by hiring a third social worker: Dr. Tara Quinn-Schuldt, who has worked as a social worker in Carroll County’s school system for 13 years.

Partnership Agreements with the Cherokee County Farm Bureau and East Cherokee Baseball both were renewed, and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower praised the Farm Bureau, which was represented at the meeting by longtime staff member, Shirley Pahl.

“We truly value all that you and the Farm Bureau do to teach our students about agriculture and opportunities to pursue careers in that field,” he said, noting the numerous greenhouses, school gardens and programs made possible in CCSD with the Farm Bureau’s support.

School Board Vice Chair Patsy Jordan, a former classroom teacher, spoke of how the Farm Bureau’s “amazing” professional development programs for teachers gave her great tools to use in the classroom.

“I’m so appreciative for everything you do,” she said.

Ms. Pahl thanked the Board for its support and noted more help from the Farm Bureau is on the way to CCSD schools, such as through a new partnership with Indian Knoll Elementary School and a $1,000 grant for a Hasty Elementary School Fine Arts Academy teacher’s school garden project.

“We really enjoy teaching the children about the importance of agriculture in their lives,” she said. “We have fun… and we hope the children are benefitting.”

During its regular meeting, the School Board also:

  • Recognized Bascomb Elementary School and Principal Kathleen Chandler as winner of 2016 Georgia Association of Elementary School Principals’ “School Bell Award”;
  • Recognized Macedonia Elementary School Media Specialist Jennifer Rice as the Regional Library Media Specialist of the Year;
  • Recognized five Woodstock High School students and their coach for earning second place at the 2016 TEAMS (Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics, and Science) Best in Nation Competition
  • Recognized Georgia Positive Athlete Award winner Katie Beckham of Woodstock High School, the statewide honoree for volleyball;
  • Recognized Cherokee High School senior Megan Johnson and Sequoyah High School senior Erin Wehunt as recipients of the 2015-16 Judy Johnson Memorial Scholarship presented by CCSD’s School Nutrition Association;
  • Approved ballot language for the Education SPLOST renewal vote called by the School Board for Nov. 8;
  • Approved monthly financial reports;
  • Approved authorized school fundraising activities for the 2016-17 school year;
  • Approved out-of-state travel;
  • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;
  • Approved the monthly capital outlay projects report;
  • Approved the annual establishment of a tribunal hearing panel for certified employees;
  • Approved the annual contract with Ninth District Opportunity for Head Start and prekindergarten programs; and,
  • After meeting in Executive Session to review real estate and student discipline matters, returned to open session and voted to reverse a student discipline decision.

Next School Board meeting: 7 p.m. Aug. 11, 2016 with a Strategic Work Session at 5:30 p.m.