CCSD Connections

A Monthly Parent Newsletter - March 2019

Superintendent's Message

March is coming in like a lion for CCSD, with students and staff making positive headlines, and plenty of education-related issues on the State Legislature's agenda like our school calendar and some troubling legislation that will short-change our students and schools.

It's also hiring season for us - we had a great turnout at our own job fair on Saturday; if you missed it, we'll be at the Cherokee Career Expo on March 13 (click on the flier below for more info).


Every five years, CCSD has developed a Strategic Plan to guide our work toward "Educating the Emerging Generation." We've decided the process needed an overhaul to increase community engagement and kicked off that new process last month (the above photo is from our Strategic Plan Community Engagement Committee's meeting). Please read the Top Stories article below to learn more... and take our survey to be a part of the Plan!


School Calendar: We know how important our balanced calendar is for student learning and for you and your family. So far, one House bill has been proposed that would mandate start dates later in August, which we're closely tracking. If legislation passes with a mandate that's effective immediately, our School Board will vote in April to change the 2019-20 calendar.

School Vouchers: Here’s the troubling news mentioned above… New legislation in both the House and Senate is promoting a voucher program described as an “Educational Savings Account” (ESA). If this legislation passes, State taxpayer dollars that could be used to fund public schools, including CCSD, instead will be given to private schools and directly to home-school parents.

This proposal stands to drain more than $54 Million over 10 years from CCSD alone (close to $2 Billion statewide), not counting the impact of existing vouchers for special needs students and existing tax breaks and shelters for private schools. The projected losses remind us of the "austerity budget cuts," which the State only this year lifted, after 10 years of high class size, furlough days and other negative impacts on teaching and learning.

To give you some perspective, $5 Million more a year would allow us to hire more than 80 additional teachers, school counselors and police officers. Hiring more teachers, school counselors and police officers has never been more important given rising concerns over students' emotional and mental health and school safety and security. The Governor proposed hiring another counselor for each high school, but since has opted against it... due to cost ($23 Million statewide annually), despite that the financial impact for these vouchers could pay for those school counselors and more improvements.

Supporters of these vouchers, including a Cherokee County State representative who proposed one of the bills, contend they “save” local school districts money by not requiring they educate those students... but when a few students leave a classroom, there are no operational savings – just losses. We still must pay the same operating bills and maintenance costs. And these funding losses lower the quality of educational services for all students. Independent research (as compared to supporters' special-interest group-funded reports) shows vouchers don't yield a positive return on such a costly investment.

In reality, what vouchers like these do is take tax dollars paid not just by families, but also by businesses and industries, to ensure a community's public schools are high quality and graduating educated workers and productive citizens... and instead redistributes that public wealth to individuals (including those who already can afford private school tuition and/or the ability to stay home to home-school) and provide public assistance to private for-profit schools.

Our School Board and I are firmly against these proposals and have shared this opinion with our Cherokee County Legislative Delegation. If you feel the same way, please consider contacting them using the email addresses and phone numbers in our School Board's Legislative Partnership Priorities.


Dr. Brian V. Hightower

Superintendent of Schools

P.S. We hope you enjoy this newsletter and our other communications. Please consider taking the brief survey here to help us continuously improve.


Join Us in Updating Our Strategic Plan

CCSD has kicked off a significant update to its five-year Strategic Plan and began the process with community engagement.

The School District, with the support of the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA), is developing a new plan aligned with the community’s vision for the future and designed to be better understood and appreciated by the community and more accurately implemented and measured by CCSD staff.

“Our vision is to create a plan that’s focused enough that everyone in the community understands where we want to go and how we’re going to get there,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “Involving the community in this process is important to me and the School Board because we want everyone who makes up our School District to have a sense of ownership of this plan and our future success.”

Learn more about the process here.

Are you a CCSD employee, parent, business or community partner, or student who wants to help develop the new Strategic Plan? Click here to share your input through an online community survey open through March 12. Haga clic aquí para español.


We've Got Spirit

The Cherokee County School District and one of its leaders are finalists for national school spirit awards!

The Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards celebrate schools, organizations and individuals who “go above and beyond the call of duty to build school pride, student engagement and community spirit.”

The finalists list just released by the company names Woodstock High School Principal Mark Smith as a contender for its Most Spirited Principal award, and CCSD for the Spirit of St. Jude Award. Winners will be announced at the company’s School Spirit Awards Show in Orlando on May 11.

“School spirit plays an important role in the success of a school, and we’re so proud and excited about these honors,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “Everyone who knows Mark knows he’s the school’s and the town’s No. 1 cheerleader. He cares deeply about every student and staff member, and all of their families, and that’s evident in everything he does. It’s also humbling to be recognized for having the Spirit of St. Jude. Kids are what we’re all about, and when kids are hurting, we all hurt. Visiting St. Jude’s and meeting those kids moves your heart, and so does seeing our own students put their ice cream money in a jar to help.”

Read more here.



Coming to a Screen Near You

Cherokee County School District Audio/Video Technology & Film Career Pathway students from high schools throughout CCSD recently learned first-hand about the industry through an exciting collaboration with the Cherokee County Office of Economic Development. The Cherokee Student Film Summit gave 100 of Cherokee's students and educators a front-row seat to interactive workshops led by local film professionals from a variety of disciplines and helped forge meaningful connections with local post-secondary film programs. As a result of the Summit, students now are preparing for the first-ever Cherokee Student Film Festival in April, also a collaboration with the Office of Economic Development. Video credit: Cherokee-based film and photography company Mileshko. #CCSDfam #CherokeeByChoice


Meet a District Leader

Dr. Adrian Thomason is a busy man year-round, but spring is especially busy for this CCSD leader.

It's when the Director for Staffing for high school and middle school certified staff is hard at work seeking the best candidates possible to fill CCSD teaching, counseling, leadership and other vital jobs for next school year.

He and his colleagues, including newly named recruiting coordinator Lindsay Bowley, look for the top graduating students from the region's education colleges, as well as outstanding educators who are working elsewhere... but should join the #CCSDfam instead!

“I truly enjoy helping Principals and supervisors find the diamonds they are looking for and making the transitions as smooth as possible,” said Dr. Thomason, who knows their role well as a former longtime Principal.

Dr. Thomason began working for CCSD in 2001 as a science teacher at Woodstock Middle School. Throughout his career with CCSD, he has served as assistant principal at Creekland Middle, Principal of Dean Rusk Middle and Principal of Creekview High School. He joined CCSD's Office of Human Resources in July 2016.

His role spans more than interviewing, checking applications and references, and recommending candidates for hiring, as he also is responsible for “on-boarding” new employees to acclimate them to their new roles, and working throughout the year with employees and supervisors to ensure employment with CCSD is a positive experience for everyone.



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Reminder: Kindergarten Online Registration Underway!

The Kindergarten Registration Gateway is open for the 2019-20 school year!

CCSD's new online system introduced last year allows parents to log in from home to the Gateway via CCSD’s website instead of handwriting information on a pile of paper forms in a school office.

Registration is open now for parents of children who will begin kindergarten in the 2019-20 school year (must be born on or before Sept. 1, 2014), and children who are starting school for the first time but are ready to enter the first grade (must be born on or before Sept. 1, 2013).

The online system for registering students new to CCSD in any grade for the 2019-20 school year will go live this spring.


Please check your school’s website and social media for school event information.

March 7: 6 p.m., Cherokee Arts Center (94 North St., Canton 30114), Opening Reception for CCSD Elementary Art Show A; Admission is free.

March 14: 6 p.m., Etowah HS, Senior Tip-Off Classic basketball games; Admission is free, with donations accepted for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

March 14-16: 7 p.m., Creekview HS, Drama Club’s production of the musical, “The Music Man.” Admission is $10; $8 for students; on March 15, $6 for seniors 55 and older.

March 14-16: 7:30 p.m., Sequoyah HS, Drama Club’s production of the musical “Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Admission is $10 at the door, $8 in advance, $5 with drama club card.

March 19: 6-9 p.m., Sequoyah HS, Taste of Sequoyah fundraiser for school’s instrumental music program. Food samples are 1-4 tickets each; tickets are $1 each. The event also includes a silent auction and basket raffle.

March 21: 2:30 to 5 p.m., Cherokee County recreation building (7545 Main St., Woodstock 30188), CCSD's annual Agency Information Fair for parents and teachers to learn more about services in the community for children with special needs

March 21: 6 p.m., Cherokee Arts Center (94 North St., Canton 30114), Opening Reception for CCSD Elementary Art Show B; Admission is free.

March 21: 7 p.m., Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo Educational Services Facility, Cherokee County School Board Meeting

March 22-23: 7 p.m. March 22, and 2 and 7 p.m. March 23, Cherokee HS, Drama Club’s production of the musical, “Little Mermaid.” Admission is $10.



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