The Cherokee County School Board on Thursday, April 21, 2016 took its first look at tentative plans for Cherokee County School District construction projects and other Education SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) expenses for the next five years.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower and his staff during the work session presented an overview of plans for the next Ed SPLOST renewal and associated bonds, which will be put before voters in November.
The referendum will seek $115 Million in funding for three school construction projects, major renovations and repairs, continuation of CCSD’s National award-winning technology program, replacement of aging school buses, land acquisition with a focus on a solution for Cherokee High School overcrowding and, “the No. 1 priority”: continued retirement of bond debt from the last 15 years of construction projects.
“The growth has returned to the county” Bill Sebring, Assistant Superintendent for Support Services and Facilities and Construction Management, said of the need for continued use of Ed SPLOST, noting there are 21 current residential developments with construction of thousands of homes underway. “Things are percolating out there, and that’s obvious if you ride around the district.”
Assistant Superintendent Sebring outlined the proposed construction projects: a 20-classroom addition at Woodstock Middle, a 24-classroom addition at Mill Creek Middle and an auxiliary gymnasium/multi-use learning space at Woodstock HS; CCSD also will earn $3.5 Million in State funding to help fund this $18.5 Million in new construction. The Ed SPLOST renewal will fund the purchase of more than 150 school buses between 2018-22, as well as land acquisition in central Cherokee large enough for a high school campus in the area between Cherokee and Woodstock High Schools.
Dr. Hightower said CCSD is in a strong position to continue reducing its bond debt using Ed SPLOST revenue, and the Board heard a presentation from its bond underwriters that an upcoming refunding will save the District more than $3 Million in interest. Should the Ed SPLOST not be approved by voters, the property tax millage rate will be increased by 5 mills in order to make debt repayments.
Board Members also heard updates on several major CCSD projects: the proposed adoption of new instructional materials for math classes across Grades K-12, which will provide teachers with a system of integrated text and online resources that eliminates the need to seek out additional resources in order to cover all standards and individualize instruction; and the implementation now underway of a new business management system that increases the efficiency of timekeeping, payroll and personnel operations, which will save CCSD time and money.
The Board also approved monthly personnel recommendations including the appointment of a dozen new school and District administrators:
- Renee Bernhardt, Supervisor for Special Education, who currently serves as an Assistant Principal for Teasley MS;
- Tina Farmer, Supervisor for School Nutrition, who currently serves as a grants program consultant for the Georgia Department of Education;
- Debbie Hendrix, Coordinator for Transportation Routing, who currently serves as a CCSD Transportation Specialist;
- Ashley Watson, Assistant Principal for Indian Knoll ES, who currently serves as a teacher at Canton ES STEM Academy;
- Carrie O’Bryant, Assistant Principal for Oak Grove ES Fine Arts Academy, who currently serves as a teacher at Boston ES;
- Debra Georges, Assistant Principal for Johnston ES, who currently serves as a teacher on special assignment for Hickory Flat ES;
- Elizabeth Spell, Assistant Principal for Teasley MS, who currently serves as the CCSD Graduation Coach;
- Tim Murray, Assistant Principal for Woodstock MS, who currently serves as a teacher there;
- Dr. Krista Webb, Assistant Principal for Creekview HS, who currently serves as a Woodstock HS teacher;
- Jeremy Adams, Assistant Principal for Cherokee HS, who currently serves as a Sequoyah HS teacher;
- Meagan Biello, Assistant Principal for Cherokee HS, who currently serves there as a teacher on special assignment; and,
- Matthew May, Assistant Principal for Sequoyah HS, who currently serves as a teacher on special assignment at Etowah HS.
During its regular meeting, the School Board also:
- Recognized Merry Willis, Carmel ES STEM Enrichment Specialist, as recipient of Fulbright Award, a distinguished National honor;
- Recognized CCSD Counselors of the Year;
- Recognized 2016 Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl First-Place District and Regional Winners;
- Recognized 2016 Spelling Bee Winners;
- Recognized Elementary School Region and State Technology Fair Winners;
- Recognized 2015-16 STAR Students and STAR Teachers;
- Recognized Holly Springs STEM Academy as Microsoft Showcase School;
- Recognized 13 CCSD Educators as Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Experts;
- Recognized State and Regional Champions from Sequoyah HS and Woodstock HS;
- Approved monthly financial reports;
- Approved for CCSD financial consultants to prepare, price and tentatively market the sale of general obligation bonds for voter-approved SPLOST purposes;
- Approved out-of-state travel;
- Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;
- Approved monthly update on capital outlay projects;
- Approved special lease agreements; and,
- Approved a School Boundary Map correction.
Next School Board meeting: 7 p.m. May 5, 2016