Cheatham Achieves

August 10, 2022

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NEW SCHOOL YEAR BEGINS

Welcome to the 2022-2023 school year! It is a great pleasure to welcome both our returning families and those who are new to our district. Our focus for this year is to create a safe and secure learning environment where strong partnerships and respectful relationships can flourish. By working together, we can build the kind of momentum that will launch our district into a new era of possibilities for students, parents, and the entire Cheatham County community.

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NEW PROGRAM WILL IMPACT OUR COMMUNITY

We are excited about our new “Kindness Grows Here” program! This year, each school will partner with a Cheatham County organization, and the school will plan service opportunities for students, staff, and families alike to support them. Your child’s school will be sharing additional information about this program.


This program ties perfectly into our mission statement: “The Cheatham County School District, together with the greater community, will create opportunities for all students to be successful, lifelong learners and to develop into respectful and caring citizens, who engage in a positive society.”


Our schools will partner with the following organizations:


Ashland City Elementary STEM Academy: Colby’s Army

East Cheatham Elementary School: United Way

Kingston Springs Elementary School: South Cheatham Public Library

Pegram Elementary Fine Arts Magnet School: Cheatham County Animal Control

Pleasant View Elementary School: Cheatham County Public Library

West Cheatham Elementary School: The Bethesda Center

Cheatham Middle School: Hillcrest Healthcare Center

Harpeth Middle School: The Ark Community Resource Center

Sycamore Middle School: North Cheatham Civitan Club

Cheatham County Central High School: VantagePointe Village

Harpeth High School: Meals on Wheels

Sycamore High School: Habitat for Humanity

Riverside Academy: Safe Haven

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UPDATED FIVE-YEAR PLAN APPROVED

The Cheatham County School Board, at its July meeting, approved an updated five-year plan, which will guide and shape our work through 2027. During each of the five years, we will initiate action steps to achieve our goals. In the updated plan, six priority areas were identified: Academic Excellence, Technology, Facilities, Partnerships/Community Engagement, Human Capital and Sustainability. The plan can be viewed by clicking here.

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NEW GRADING SCALE ADOPTED

As a reminder to our families, we will have a new grading scale this year. The Cheatham County School Board approved the grading system at its July meeting to align with recent legislation passed by the Tennessee Legislature. Complete details can be found by clicking here.

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SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION UPDATE

We want to welcome two new Cheatham County School Board members. In the Aug. 4 election, Jimmy Harden was elected to represent District 4 and Robert Epps was elected to represent District 5. In addition, incumbent John Patrick was elected to represent District 1. A swearing-in ceremony for the three will be held Aug. 31 at the Cheatham County Circuit Courtroom and they will take office Sept. 1. Due to redistricting, Mr. Patrick is moving from District 2 to District 1. Therefore, there is now a vacancy in District 2, which includes the East Cheatham/Joelton communities. Voters will elect a new District 2 School Board member in the Nov. 8 election, and the winner will serve the remaining two-year term. The Cheatham County Election Commission will soon announce when petitions for this seat can be picked up and returned.

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DISTRICT BEGINS ACCREDITATION PROCESS

We will begin the process this year of becoming an accredited district through Cognia, formerly known as AdvancED. Cognia nationally recognizes districts that meet rigorous standards focused on productive learning environments, equitable resource allocation that meets the needs of learners, and effective leadership. Earning this accreditation demonstrates our commitment to excellence, our openness to external review and feedback, and our desire to be the best we can be on behalf of the students we serve. Earning accreditation is part of our five-year plan. The accreditation process is scheduled to be complete by fall 2023.

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THIRD GRADE RETENTION LAW NOW IN EFFECT

A Tennessee law taking effect this school year will impact all third-grade students and determine if a student will move on to fourth grade; need to attend summer school to move on to fourth grade; or must repeat third grade. Based on Tennessee law, T.C.A. 49-6-3115, passed in 2021, third-grade students who don’t show proficiency on the English Language Arts (ELA) section of the Tennessee Comprehensive Program (TCAP) may have requirements related to summer school and/or tutoring to be promoted to fourth grade. There are numerous provisions that accompany this law, and parents can expect ongoing communication from principals and teachers as additional information is available.

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DISTRICT RECEIVES FARM TO SCHOOL GRANT

We are happy to announce that we have been awarded a Farm to School planning grant for the 2022-2023 school year. We will pilot a Farm to School program this year in partnership with the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (NWTLFN). The NWTLFN has worked with other school districts in developing successful and sustainable Farm to School programs. More details can be found by clicking here.

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FAMILIES MAY QUALIFY FOR INTERNET DISCOUNT

The Affordable Connectivity Program is a federal government benefit program operated by the FCC that provides qualifying households with a monthly credit to help pay for Internet service. If eligible, households may receive a credit of up to $30 per month toward their broadband services. Cumberland Connect has a link on its website (click here) that Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation members can visit and see if they qualify. If they qualify, they can call CEMC and they will apply the credit to their account. Additional information is included in the above flyer.
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TWO CTE PROGRAMS ADDED THIS YEAR

We are beginning the second year of our Innovative High School Models Grant. We received this $828,282 grant in 2021 to relaunch the Auto Mechanics Career and Technical Education (CTE) program of study at Cheatham County Central High School. This year, we will restart the auto collision and welding programs of study at CCCHS. A portion of the grant funds are being used to transport a select number of Harpeth High School and Sycamore High School to CCCHS to take these CTE classes. This summer, the welding facility at CCCHS was renovated (pictured), with Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, as we restart the welding program. We greatly appreciate our partnership with the Tennessee College of Applied Technology on this grant.

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PEGRAM HOSTING TITLE I MEETINGS

Pegram Elementary Fine Arts Magnet School is becoming a Title I school this year. To help with this transition, the school will host a Title IA family information meeting on Thursday, Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. A Family Advisory Council meeting will be held on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 5:30 p.m. The school will also host three family engagement events during the school year. If our Pegram families have any questions about Title I, they can contact Claudette Fizer, our Family and Community Engagement Coordinator, at claudette.fizer@ccstn.org.

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INPUT SOUGHT ON ESSER STAKEHOLDER SURVEY

We are seeking input from our stakeholders on our Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) plan. ESSER funding is available to help safely reopen schools and address the impacts of the COVID pandemic on students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs, including interventions to address learning loss and support equity with services and supports for student populations that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. We need to hear from our students, families, and staff members about our plan. To complete the short survey, please click here.

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SCHOOL SAFETY TIP LINE

We want to remind our families of our School Safety email tip line. The tip line is designed as an online reporting and prevention tool. If students, parents, or community members know of an unsafe situation in one of our schools, they can pass on that information to school officials by sending an email to tip@ccstn.org. Sample issues could include cyber or physical bullying, situations of abuse, talk of a fight, drug abuse or anything that could impact the safety and well-being of students and staff. When making your report, please include as much detailed information as possible because doing so will greatly assist school administrators in investigating and addressing the concerns. This is NOT a two-way method of communication. For immediate emergency situations, please call 911. If you have questions regarding the tip line, contact Coordinated School Health Supervisor Shelley Duke at shelley.duke@ccstn.org.

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PLEASE COMPLETE MEAL APPLICATIONS

For the past two years during the pandemic, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provided waivers to allow all children to eat breakfast and lunch at no cost through the USDA Seamless Summer Option program. The USDA waiver has ended, and, therefore, school meal service will resume in the 2022-2023 school year through the National School Lunch Program and National School Breakfast Program, operating as it did prior to the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020. It is extremely important that all families who believe their children qualify for free or reduced meals to complete a Free and Reduced Meal Program application for the 2022-2023 school year. Applications are available at each school or they can be filled out online via Skyward. The application and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) letter are also available on our website by clicking here.

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TDOE LAUNCHES TCAP FAMILY PORTAL

The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) is encouraging families to use its new 2022 TCAP Family Portal. According to the TDOE, the portal has been redesigned to provide more resources for families and includes personalized student video reports, sample questions and historical data. To access the TCAP Family Portal, find the student's unique access code (USID) on the bottom right-hand corner of the printed State score report. Using the USID, new users may create an account and returning users may log in to their existing accounts. The TDOE will continue to update the Family Portal in the coming weeks. For more information, visit the TDOE TCAP page.

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"PAY IT FORWARD" PROGRAM CONTINUES

If you want to donate money to help cover a student’s school nutrition charges, please remember that we have set up “Pay It Forward” donation accounts at each school. You can donate funds for a random or particular student. We launched this program in 2017, and it has been a great success over the past five years. Donations can be made online by clicking here.

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NEW BOOK/STEAM BUS ROLLS OUT

It was a great summer as we rolled out our new book/STEAM bus! Thanks to all the families that visited and the organizations that partnered with us each week. In total, we had 451 children visit the bus, we distributed 900 free books, and we handed out 350 lunches. As you might recall, we received a Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation grant to launch the bus. The bus will be used throughout the school year as a reward/STEAM bus at our schools. If you haven’t seen the bus yet, it will be at the Ashland City Farmers Market on Saturday, Aug. 27 from 9 a.m. to noon.

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COME DRIVE FOR US!

Like many other school districts across the nation, we are also struggling to recruit and retain bus drivers. If you know of anyone who would like to drive a bus for the district, please refer them to us. We also ask that you consider driving a bus for us. We offer a flexible schedule; part-time pay starts at $16 per hour; a perfect attendance bonus; and extra route incentives. For more information, please email Transportation Supervisor Cal Blacker at cal.blacker@ccstn.org or Assistant Transportation Supervisor Jeff Hobbs at jeff.hobbs@ccstn.org or call the Transportation Department at 615-746-1428. You can also apply online by clicking here. Due to the driver shortage, we ask that you have alternative plans in place to get your child(ren) to and from school in case a route is temporarily closed at any time during the school year.

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GAME TICKETS MUST BE PURCHASED ONLINE

All tickets for our middle and high school athletic games and other ticketed events must be purchased through GoFan this year. There will be no gate box for cash sales at any game or event. For additional details and GoFan links for our middle and high schools, please visit here.

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REVTRAK TAKES ONLINE PAYMENTS

We want to remind our families that they can pay online for just about anything school related (such as school meals, yearbooks, daycare, club/organization events, laptops, etc.) via our RevTrak payment system. We have individual school links on the district website. To access the RevTrak system, click here.