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Board Business Briefs: Superintendent Search Update

Board Business Briefs: Superintendent Search Update

The Cherokee County School Board at its regular meeting on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023 heard an update on its search for the next superintendent of schools.

The school board earlier this month voted to contract with the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) for its support services to aid in the search.  Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower on Sept. 1 announced his plans to retire at the end of this school year.

Bill Sampson, a GSBA consultant with 20 years of experience in superintendent searches, board development and strategic planning, spoke to the school board during the meeting about the group’s services.

“We want to make sure all along the way the board is involved,” he said, describing GSBA’s role as facilitator, not decision maker.  The nonprofit organization has supported hundreds of superintendent searches statewide, with Mr. Sampson assisting with 50 during his tenure. 

The process, which he said in all should take about three to four months, begins with the school board members determining what qualities they want to see in the next superintendent.  Those qualities, along with state requirements for superintendents, will be used by GSBA to develop the announcement for the job opening.  Once the school approves the announcement, it will be advertised statewide, as well as nationwide should the school board determine it wants that wide a search.

After a set period of time for accepting applications, which will be thorough and range from 40 to 50 pages each, the school board will determine which candidates it would like to interview, he said.  GSBA will provide the school board with organizational support for those initial interviews and a second round of interviews with the school board’s top candidates.

Per state law, the school board, after selecting one to three finalists, must wait two weeks to allow for public input before voting to hire the next superintendent.

The school board on Thursday also approved this school year’s School Improvement Plans.  Principals and their leadership teams develop the plans annually, which must include two long-term measurable goals, such as specific improvement of student academic performance on state standardized tests or specific reductions in student disciplinary incidents.

School board members Patsy Jordan and Kelly Poole praised principals and their leadership teams for developing thoughtful plans for continuous school improvement.

“It’s really important -- it shows us the growth and areas where we can improve,” Ms. Poole said of the annual process.  It’s a “labor of love,” she said, given how much time it takes to assess data and track progress, “but really appreciated.”

The school district’s school operations and curriculum and instruction leaders conduct year-round reviews of school progress toward achieving the goals and provide supports and interventions along the way.

Ms. Jordan, a retired CCSD teacher, said she knows firsthand the work required to develop the plans.  “There’s a lot of work,” she said, “and I appreciate the hard work.”

As part of its monthly personnel agenda item, the school board approved the appointment of Shelby Johnston to serve as the next supervisor of financial compliance and reporting.  She has 22 years of experience in the field, both for businesses and nonprofits.

Shelby Johnston

Shelby Johnston

The school board also:

  • Recognized CCSD’s Special Olympic statewide gold medalists.  Learn more here;
  • Recognized Clark Creek ES STEM Academy, Free Home ES and Mill Creek MS as winners of the National PTA School of Excellence Award.  Learn more here;
  • Recognized Etowah HS teacher Lara McDonald for earning the Georgia Outstanding Biology Teacher Award.  Learn more here;
  • Recognized CCSD educators and support staff for winning PTA state and District 13 Awards.  Learn more here;
  • Recognized Clayton ES as a Georgia School Nutrition Cafeteria of Excellence.  Learn more here;
  • Recognized Etowah High School’s FFA chapter for earning the national FFA 2023 3 Star Chapter award.  Learn more here;
  • Recognized CCSD’s 2023-24 Lead Innovation Zone Principals.  Learn more here;
  • Approved a proclamation in honor of Constitution Week;
  • Approved the renewal of Partnership Agreements with City of Waleska, Cobb EMC, Hobgood Baseball, North Georgia RESA, Piedmont University and Sequoyah Regional Library System;
  • Approved monthly financial reports; 
  • Approved out of state staff travel;
  • Approved out of state and overnight student field trips;
  • Approved the monthly update on capital outlay projects; 
  • Approved special lease agreements; and
  • Approved the annual contract with Ninth District Opportunity Inc. for Head Start preschool programs.