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Board Briefs: School Board Reviews Report on Overcrowding and School Boundaries

Posted On: Friday, September 20, 2019

NOTE: A gallery of photos from the meeting is online here.

The Cherokee County School Board on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 reviewed CCSD’s annual report on school overcrowding, which will not lead to any school boundary redrawings for next school year.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said, based on the limited enrollment growth of 350 additional students and lack of any “critically overcrowded” schools, he will not recommend any redistricting for next school year.

Dr. Hightower said construction underway to expand Mill Creek Middle School and the plan to build more classrooms at Woodstock Middle School will bring relief to schools experiencing overcrowding, adding that CCSD’s elementary schools are in “great shape” as far as capacity. 

While Cherokee High School overcrowding has ended due to its absorption of the former Canton Elementary School campus, Dr. Hightower said he and his staff are closely monitoring enrollment.

“We have to decide how comfortable we are with a school that large,” Dr. Hightower said of Cherokee High School, which serves 2,700 students as CCSD’s largest high school followed by Etowah High School with 2,400 students.  “We’re definitely interested in building a high school in the north to provide relief to Cherokee and Creekview.  We’re looking at overcrowding, but we’re also looking at dated facilities.”  

The School Board on Thursday also approved a contract to offer expanded alternative high school programs and heard an update on CCSD’s Career, Technical and Agricultural Education program.

The School Board unanimously approved an agreement to partner with Mountain Education Charter High School program, which operates evening high school programs throughout north Georgia. 

As a result of the agreement, Mountain Ed, as it’s widely known, will operate CCSD’s 2020 high school summer school credit recovery program and Polaris evening high school program beginning in fall 2020.  Mountain Ed leaders have promised as seamless a transition as possible for both current students and staff, with plans to continue employment for its teachers, the majority of whom also work during the day in CCSD schools.

Mountain Ed will expand services available to students in CCSD’s alternative high school program, providing them with one-on-one academic coaching and mentoring, as well as a complimentary nightly dinner catered by local restaurants.  These wrap-around services have proven both popular and successful among students, Dr. Hightower said, noting he believes the partnership with Mountain Ed will help CCSD succeed in ensuring every student earns his or her diploma.

Dr. Hightower during the meeting also shared an update on how CCSD’s Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) is expanding to better serve the needs of students and local employers.  Full details of that update are online here.

“Our mission is to educate the emerging generation, and that education extends beyond core academics to also include specific knowledge and skills needed in their future careers,” Dr. Hightower said, noting that the Office of Curriculum & Instruction would give a full presentation on the state of CTAE in CCSD at the School Board’s work session in October.  “Just as our Advanced Placement classes and other challenging academic courses drive college and university success, our CTAE Career Pathways classes, Work-Based Learning program and industry certifications give our students an edge in the workplace.”

The School Board also:

• Viewed CCSD’s new Social and Emotional Learning mission statement video, which was produced by Dr. Debra Murdock, who is overseeing CCSD’s SEL initiative and the Office of Communications, and is online here.

• Heard a presentation from Reinhardt University on its new agreement with CCSD to offer 15% discounts to CCSD employees on specific degree programs including Master of Education, Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Master of Art in Teaching, with special cohort in the latter just for paraprofessionals interested in advancing to full-time teaching.

• Recognized Sequoyah High School English teacher Elaine Dasher, recipient of a Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Grant;

• Recognized E.T. Booth Middle School teacher Debbie Krug, recipient of the Georgia Middle School PE Teacher of the Year Award;

• Recognized CCSD’s School Nutrition program for winning the Georgia Golden Radish Award at the Platinum level;

• Recognized five Creekland MS teachers as the first in CCSD to Achieve ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Certification;

• Recognized 28 CCSD schools as Governor’s SHAPE (Student Health and Physical Education) Honor Roll honorees;

• Recognized River Ridge HS computer science teacher Jennifer Norton for being selected to lead a National Master Teacher workshop at Facebook’s headquarters;

• Recognized six CCSD high school seniors named 2020 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists;

• Approved proclamations issued in recognition of Constitution Week and National Attendance Awareness Month;

• Approved the first reading of a School Board Policy change to reflect the adoption of a new Vision Statement, Core Beliefs and Priority Areas, which were developed through a community based process as part of CCSD’s Blueprint strategic plan;

• Approved the monthly financial reports for both July and August;

• Approved the issuance of a Tax Anticipation Note for $9.75 million with an interest rate of 1.76%;

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

• Approved modified health and PSEAE curriculum resources for Grades 5-9;

• Approved the monthly capital outlay projects report;

• Approved special lease agreements;

• Approved the monthly human resources report;

• Approved a local governance training plan for School Board members and,

• Approved the annual Head Start and PreK contract with Ninth District Opportunity, Inc.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019.

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