CCSD Connections

A Monthly Parent Newsletter - May 2020

Superintendent's Message

Dear #CCSDfam,

Today is the last official day of school, but the work of CCSD will carry on over our extended summer break.

Thank you again to all of our students and families; teachers, school nutrition workers, school nurses, and all other CCSD staff; and our community partners, for together helping us finish as strong as possible given the circumstances.

While my messages to you will not be weekly over the break, please know that: all of our teachers will work for the next two weeks with students in need of extra help and then mail out report cards; our school nutrition superheroes will continue #CCSDserves to-go meal distribution; and my leadership staff is preparing for the coming school year.

As I've shared with you, I lead with hope, but that optimism is tempered with reality and the importance of planfulness.

We are hoping and preparing for in-person school to begin in August, as well as envisioning what we may need to do if it cannot.

And we are preparing for what may be the largest State funding shortfall in our history, with all agencies funded by the State directed to prepare for possible 14% cuts.

Our day-to-day operating budget is largely funded by State education funding and local property tax revenue; sales tax revenue helps us with construction and technology, but can’t be used for salaries or other daily costs. A 14% cut in State education funds would be a loss of $32 Million in State revenue for CCSD; for perspective, it costs approximately $1.5 Million to run our school district each day. The bulk of our operating budget -- 87% -- is spent on salaries and benefits for our employees, and nearly all of our employees directly serve students as teachers, bus drivers, school nutrition workers, counselors, nurses and school administrators.

Cherokee County also is uniquely disadvantaged, as compared to our neighbors' ability to generate revenue -- we are a bedroom community, and residential properties are not taxed at levels that fully fund the educational infrastructure they require; the majority of senior citizens pay no school taxes; and many commercial and industrial developments are given a 10-year pass on paying taxes as our leaders attempt to grow jobs and stimulate the local economy.

In March, I sent my senior staff, which was mid-way through its zero-based budgeting process for next school year, back to the drawing board. I instructed them to cut their budgets by 5%, and they did so by postponing purchases and freezing new central office hiring, among other cost avoidance measures.

Upon last week's announcement the State is exploring a cut nearly three times that total, I've charged them with making further reductions -- putting off initiatives, cancelling professional development and further limiting our hiring for next year. Our administrative costs already are ranked among the lowest in the State, so these will be painful cuts, which I hope, along with some small closure-related cost-avoidances like bus fuel, will help us get much closer to the necessary balanced budget.

But to reach $32 Million in operational cuts, I anticipate we will most likely have to implement furlough days. It's just too great a gap to cover without impacting our biggest line item: our people. We've gone through this before -- for 16 of the last 18 years we endured a total loss of $209.2 Million in "State austerity cuts," as the economy recovered from recession -- and we know it will hurt all of our families.

The State Legislature will re-convene in June, and we hope they will take a similar hard look at their budget -- including the $138.3 Million in diverted general fund revenue and tax credits that encourage increased enrollment in private schools -- before deeply cutting public education.

The School Board and I are committed to leading with transparency, which is why I'm sharing this lengthy message with you today, and why we post our budget and other financial records on our Open CCSD webpage. I will share a more detailed update with the School Board at its May 21 meeting, and my staff will send you an update immediately after that meeting. We will update you again when we have more information from the State Legislature’s session.

Thank you for everything,

Dr. Brian V. Hightower

Superintendent of Schools




Tippens School Counselor Earns CCSD Top Honor

School Counselor Kelly Schalliol found success in her first career supporting the mental health of adults, but knew she could do more to help those in need. If she counseled them as children, she realized, she “could make a longer-lasting impact.”

Eighteen years ago, Ms. Schalliol began her work as a school counselor, and 10 years ago, was chosen to help the Cherokee County School District open the Tippens Education Center. The program provides students, who are struggling with emotional and mental health issues, a place not only to learn academics, but also to receive additional counseling and therapeutic support and services.

Her spirit of care, compassion and continuous improvement led her colleagues to name Ms. Schalliol the Cherokee Innovation Zone’s Counselor of the Year … and for Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower to surprise her Monday with the honor that she’s the Cherokee County School District 2020 Counselor of the Year!

“Kelly is a champion for every child she serves,” Dr. Hightower said.

Credit Union of Georgia, a CCSD Partner, sponsored gifts including an iPad with case and an engraved plaque for Ms. Schalliol, as well as a $50 gift card for her and each of the Innovation Zone Counselors of the Year, which will be delivered to their schools.

Learn more:



DUDE Be Nice

Etowah HS Celebrates Kindness and Compassion

Etowah High School, in the week prior to the school closures, held its first “dude. be nice.” campaign – a schoolwide social and emotional learning project and celebration of kindness and compassion. Among the activities, students thanked school staff and community partners, and recognized classmates known for their kindness. Junior Connor Fisher created this outstanding video to share the story of their efforts. #CCSDcares #CCSDfam


Meet CCSD's Newly Appointed Assistant Principals

The School Board has approved the Superintendent's recommended appointments of new assistant principals and a new head girls basketball coach for Creekview HS.

The new assistant principals are filling vacancies created by retirements, advancements and enrollment growth:

• Avery ES: Ginger Morgan from E.T. Booth MS;
• Bascomb ES: Jessica Currie from Indian Knoll ES;
• Cherokee HS: Dr. Christian Kirby from Ball Ground ES STEM Academy;
• Creekland MS: Celeice Hood from Woodstock HS;
• Creekview HS: Mark Vance from Etowah HS;
• Etowah HS: Dr. Curt Ashley from Polaris Evening School;
• E.T. Booth MS: Tia Bryller from Dodgen MS in Cobb County;
• Hickory Flat ES: Nicholas Zomer from Creekland MS;
• Hickory Flat ES: Denna Vance from R.M. Moore ES STEM Academy;
• R.M. Moore ES STEM Academy: Kimberly Moody from Holly Springs ES STEM Academy;
• Sixes ES: Emily Bartlett from Bascomb ES;
• Teasley MS: Dianne Schumacher from Creekview HS; and,
• Woodstock ES: Laura Casey from Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy.

John Domville will serve as the head girls basketball coach for Creekview HS, bringing eight years of teaching and coaching experience to the post. A special education teacher, he currently teaches, serves as his department chair and coaches the girls varsity basketball team at Centennial High School. He was named Centennial’s 2018-19 Athletics Coach of the Year and 2017-18 Teacher of the Year.


CCSD Announces High School Summer School Options

CCSD will offer online summer school from June 3-23 for high school students. In addition to offering courses for students who need to retake classes not passed during the regular school year, Personal Fitness and Health courses will be offered to rising ninth-graders for initial high school credit. All courses will be held online.

Credit Recovery: Online courses for credit recovery will be facilitated by a certified teacher. All available courses are listed on the online registration form. Students can take up to two classes: one from 8 a.m. to noon and/or one from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Students are expected to participate online daily. The cost is $200 per class/half unit of credit. Registration and payment will be online only. Registration is due by May 22, and payment is due by May 29; more information is here. (Spanish translation here)

Initial Credit for Personal Fitness and Health: Rising 9th-graders may take a half-unit each of Personal Fitness and/or Health for high school credit. The online courses will be facilitated by a certified teacher. Students can take Personal Fitness from 8 a.m. to noon and/or Health from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Students are expected to participate online daily. The cost is $200 per class/half unit of credit. Registration and payment will be online only. Registration and payment is due by May 22; more information is here. (Spanish translation here)


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