Board Business Briefs: April School Board Meeting
From left to right, Dr. Kerry Martin, Rodney Larrotta, Andy Hall, Scott Bracco, Tiffany Leak, Sharon Swanson, Jordan Tetley.
The Cherokee County School Board at its meeting on Thursday, April 20, 2023 approved the appointment of a new Cherokee High School principal and improvements to the driveway and parking for Creekview High School and Creekland Middle School.
As part of its monthly personnel agenda item, the School Board approved the retirement of longtime teacher and administrator Dr. Kerry Martin, who currently serves as CCSD’s executive director of administrative leadership for elementary schools. Rodney Larrotta, principal of Cherokee High School, was approved by the School Board to fill the post vacated by Dr. Martin’s retirement. Andy Hall, current principal of CCSD’s ACTIVE multi-program campus, which includes ACE Academy, Cherokee College & Career Academy, i-Grad Virtual Academy and Transition Academy, will serve as the new principal for Cherokee HS.
A 33-year educator, Dr. Martin’s previous roles with the school district have included principal of River Ridge HS, Mill Creek MS and Arnold Mill ES, assistant principal, Special Education facilitator and teacher and coach. Her numerous accolades included Outstanding High School and Middle School Principal awards and Teacher of the Year honors.
“Thank you Kerry for dedicating your career to serving our community’s children through teaching, coaching and leading,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Hightower said. “We appreciate all you have done to improve our schools and our school district.”
A 29-year educator, Principal Larrotta previously served as principal of Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy and as a teacher and coach at Woodstock HS. His numerous accolades include the Superintendent’s Game Changer Award for Instructional Leadership and the Rotary Club of Canton’s community Volunteer of the Year Award.
“Rodney has served Cherokee High with excellence, and we know his experience will benefit our school district as a whole in his new role,” Dr. Hightower said. “As the Cherokee High community says ‘Once a Warrior, Always a Warrior,’ and Andy with this appointment is returning home to the first school where he worked as a teacher. He quickly became known at Cherokee as an outstanding teacher and coach, and I know he will be just as successful as the school’s new leader.”
A 19-year educator, Principal Hall was appointed to his current role after serving for five years as an assistant principal, with a focus on curriculum, at River Ridge HS. He previously taught English at Cherokee HS, Woodstock HS and Polaris Evening Program and coached cross-country, track and basketball. His numerous accolades include the Superintendent’s Game Changer Award for Instructional Leadership, Woodstock HS Teacher of the Year and Woodstock HS STAR Teacher.
Principal Hall has earned two bachelor’s degrees, in secondary English education from Kennesaw State University and journalism from the University of Georgia; a master’s degree in writing from KSU; and two education specialist degrees, in secondary English education from Georgia State University and in educational leadership from Berry College. He and his wife, Erin, have two children in CCSD schools.
As part of the personnel agenda item, the School Board also approved the appointment of Scott Bracco to serve as Sequoyah High School’s new head boys basketball coach and Tiffany Leak to serve as Woodstock High School’s next varsity girls basketball head coach. A PE teacher, Coach Bracco most recently led the boys basketball programs at East Forsyth and Lambert High Schools. A Special Education teacher, Coach Leak currently leads the girls basketball program at Paulding County High School. Dr. Hightower also has approved two coaching promotions: Sharon Swanson, current Cherokee HS girls assistant basketball coach and health and PE teacher, has been named head coach; and Jordan Tetley, current Etowah HS girls assistant basketball coach and Special Education teacher, has been named head coach.
The School Board on Thursday also approved a proposal from Summit Construction to improve the Creekview High School and Creekland Middle School driveway and parking at a cost of $1.3 million. The project will allow for a longer queue for car rider traffic as well as more parking for student drivers. The project is the first phase of a two-phase improvement plan for the campus; the second phase still to be approved by the board will add more classrooms and renovate some existing classrooms.
The School Board heard two presentations: a wrap-up of education bills passed during the recently completed state legislative session and the results of the most recent credit rating indicator review for the school district by Moody’s. On its scale of 1 being the best and five the lowest score awarded, Moody’s rated the school district at a 1. For the underlying factors the school district controls, it earned a 1 on Budget Management, Policy Credibility and Effectiveness and Transparency and Disclosure; the score also takes into account factors such as community demographics and safety. The school district was also credited for its successful efforts, through improving compensation and benefits, to reduce any local impact from national workforce shortages.
“It’s great news,” School Board member Kelly Poole, who works as an accountant, said of the indicator review results. She noted it’s another step in the right direction for the governance team’s work to improve the district’s credit ratings, which reduces the cost to taxpayers for the school district’s borrowing and financing needs.
During the legislative review, School Board members asked about new mandates in regard to teacher planning time and literacy assessments. Staff responded that both new laws would be reviewed this summer to ensure compliance to include seeking out possible multi-purpose assessments to avoid increasing the overall student testing load.
The School Board also:
- Celebrated Georgia’s ranking as 15th in the nation for best student performance on Advanced Placement (AP) course exams for college credit. CCSD is a longtime advocate for the use of AP programs to increase academic rigor, with a wide variety of offerings (exceeding 26 per school) and consistent outstanding student performance.
- Thanked R.M. Moore ES STEM Academy for hosting this month’s School Board luncheon. Learn more here;
- Recognized CCSD Teacher of the Year Lara McDonald of Etowah HS. Learn more here;
- Recognized CCSD 2023 Counselor of the Year Kristie Sikes of Creekview HS and Innovation Zone Counselors of the Year. Learn more here;
- Recognized Clark Creek ES STEM Academy Assistant Principal Laura Casey as Georgia’s 2023 National Outstanding Assistant Principal. Learn more here;
- Recognized the Freedom MS History Bowl Team as statewide first-place winners. Learn more here;
- Recognized Woodstock HS senior Emily Coburn for her selection and placement in the annual All-State Art Competition. Learn more here;
- Recognized CCSD's 2022-23 Georgia State Technology Competition champions. Learn more here;
- Recognized Creekland MS students for placing in the State Technology Student Association career skills competition. Learn more here;
- Recognized Cherokee HS students for earning top honors at the Georgia SkillsUSA career skills competition. Learn more here;
- Recognized Etowah HS students for placing first in the statewide HOSA Future Health Professionals career skills competition. Learn more here;
- Recognized CCSD's 2022-23 Regional and State Science and Engineering Fair Winners. Learn more here;
- Recognized CCSD students for earning first-place honors at the Elementary School State Science Fair. Learn more here;
- Recognized Teasley MS students for earning top honors at the Georgia TOME Student Literacy Society annual competition. Learn more here;
- Recognized CCSD's 2022-23 Governor's Honors finalists. Learn more here;
- Recognized CCSD's Georgia High School Association state and regional champions. Learn more here;
- Approve the renewal of the partnership agreement with the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce;
- Approved the final reading of updates to Policy BCBI Public Participation in Board Meetings;
- Approved the release of attorney-client communications in response to a records request;
- Approved monthly financial reports;
- Approved out of state staff travel;
- Approved out of state and overnight student field trips;
- Approved the monthly update on capital outlay projects; and,
- Approved special lease agreements.