Board Business Briefs: School Board Reviews Ed SPLOST Projects
During the Cherokee County School Board meeting on Thursday, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower thanks Avery ES kindergartner Hudson Dalton, left, for his heroism in helping save the life of classmate, Aidan Anderson, who recently suffered a cardiac event at school. Aidan, who is joined by dad, Jeffrey Anderson, a Creekview HS teacher, was recognized for his bravery.
The Cherokee County School Board at its Thursday, Oct. 21 work session, reviewed projects proposed for the Education Special Purpose Location Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) renewal up for a vote on Nov. 2, with Early Voting now underway.
The renewal of the existing 1% sale tax will provide funds for major construction projects including: a new/replacement Cherokee High School and Free Home Elementary School; classroom additions at Creekview HS, Woodstock HS, Creekland MS and Oak Grove ES STEAM Academy; second gymnasiums at River Ridge HS and Creekview HS; and athletic facility improvements at Etowah HS and Sequoyah HS. It also will renovate schools districtwide for needed repairs and improvements such as to HVAC systems, roofing, flooring, etc.; replace 30 aging school buses each year for five years; and fund technology infrastructure and improvements.
The Ed SPLOST penny also is used to retire the bond debt “mortgage” CCSD owes for the rapid construction of 19 new/replacement schools and other significant capital projects over the last 20 years. Should the Ed SPLOST renewal not pass, there would be an automatic 5 mill increase in property taxes, which is a 25% increase on every tax bill, to continue making debt retirement payments. Additionally, all of the proposed projects would halt, and the shift to property taxes would create new and additional constraints on the general fund portion of the budget, which is utilized for all day-to-day operating costs including teacher and support staff salaries, facility utilities and maintenance, bus fuel, etc.
School Board members during the work session further discussed planned projects and possible uses for the current Cherokee High School campus when the new/replacement building if constructed.
Ideas being considered include repurposing the main campus to serve as the new home for the Cherokee College & Career Academy, which opened this school year with one Career Pathway – cybersecurity -- at the ACTIVE Academies campus (also home to ACE Academy, Transition Academy and i-Grad Virtual Academy on the former Teasley campus). The Cherokee North campus could be returned to use as Canton Elementary School, or it could be repurposed as a districtwide preschool and/or Pre-K center. These ideas remain very preliminary, as the School Board would use the traditional community review process to hear stakeholder input before voting on a plan.
The School Board during its work session also heard an update on the next State Legislative session to begin preparing their annual Legislative Partnership Priorities. School Board members also heard presentations on the Superintendent’s Leadership Academy Executive Coaching program, which offers school and CCSD administrators a new level of professional development, and a new dashboard created by the State to track school system spending of federal COVID-19 relief grants.
An update also was presented on COVID-19 cases, which continue to decrease both among CCSD students and staff and the community at large.
During its regular meeting, the School Board adopted a resolution supporting a proposed new School Board Member District Reapportionment Map. Following every 10-year Census, the State Legislature updates voting maps to ensure maps that determine which elected officials you vote for are determined based on updated population totals to allow for more equal representation. The proposed map, which still must be adopted by the Legislature, likely would go into effect for the May 2022 Primary Elections. This new map has no impact on which schools students attend.
The School Board approved plans for the annual surplus property auction for CCSD, which will be held at 9 a.m. Nov. 13 at the CCSD Central Distribution Warehouse (201 Mountain Brook Court, Canton 30115), with the preview starting at 8 a.m. A list of the items up for auction is posted on the CCSD website at https://bit.ly/CCSDauction21.
The School Board also:
- Recognized CCSD’s high school seniors named 2022 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists: of Creekview HS, Justin Bolsen, Callahan “Cal” Pace and Benjamin “Ben” Webster V; of River Ridge HS, Rachel G. Kim; of Sequoyah HS, Riley Hartman and Wesley Lanter; and of Woodstock HS, Leo Blatnik;
- Recognized Cherokee High School junior Weston Olds for being named to the State School Superintendent's 2021-22 Student Advisory Council;
- Recognized Avery Elementary School staff for life-saving actions: Assistant Principals Matt Harper and Ginger Morgan; school counselors Angel Jane and Kathy McNamara; paraprofessional Martina Kennel; school nurse Sandra McFarland; and teacher Cammie Sheffield and the heroism of classmate Hudson Dalton. All came to the rescue of kindergartener Aidan Anderson when he recently suffered a cardiac event at school; Aidan also attended the meeting and was recognized for his bravery;
- Recognized CCSD as a Georgia School Boards Association 2021 Governance Team of the Year Finalist;
- Recognized the CCSD Transportation Department and school bus drivers in honor of National School Bus Safety Week;
- Approved a proclamation in honor of Retired Educators Day and heard remarks from Dr. Pat Kearns of the Cherokee Retired Educators Association about its positive partnership with CCSD;
- Approved monthly financial reports;
- Approved out-of-state travel requests for employees;
- Approved out-of-state and overnight field trips requests for students;
- Approved the monthly Capital Outlay Projects update; and,
- Approved the monthly personnel report.
Cherokee County School Board member Rick Steiner gives Avery ES kindergartner Hudson Dalton a high-five as he is recognized at the School Board meeting on Thursday for his heroism in helping save the life of classmate, Aidan Anderson, right, who recently suffered a cardiac event at school.