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Board Business Briefs: School Custodial Services to Return to In-House Operations, WHS Addition Approved

Board Business Briefs: School Custodial Services to Return to In-House Operations, WHS Addition Approved

The Cherokee County School Board at its meeting on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023, heard plans by the Superintendent of Schools to return school custodial services to in-house operations for next school year.  

The school board also approved the Woodstock HS classroom addition construction contract, named Dr. Chad Flatt as the new principal for Freedom Middle School beginning Jan. 8 as Principal Whitney Nolan is stepping down and appointed Adam Holley as the new head football coach for Cherokee High School.  


Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower at the meeting announced his plan to return school custodial services to in-house operations for next school year.  

The school district 10 years ago began using a third-party vendor to provide school custodial services.  The decision was made due to significantly rising state healthcare benefit employer premium costs to CCSD, with a $5 million expense difference between in-house and contracted services at that time.

The cost difference between in-house and contracted services is reviewed by CCSD staff every several years when the contract for custodial services is up for potential renewal.  During this year’s request for proposals process, the CCSD analysis showed that the gap between the costs that would be incurred by CCSD and the fees that vendors proposed for custodial services for next school year had significantly narrowed.

“I know that the decision 10 years ago was a difficult one for the then Superintendent and School Board to make.  I am so grateful to be able to make today’s announcement,” Dr. Hightower said, noting he had spoken with individual school board members in advance about the potential change and appreciated their support.  “Not only is it the right fiscal decision for our school district, but we believe that when employees are part of the CCSD family, we see better performance from those team members.”

School board member Dr. Susan Padgett-Harrison, a past school principal, said she’s so glad the district could make this change.  “It’s extremely important” to a principal, she said, to be able to oversee custodial staff.  “It’s the right thing to do to bring them back … to be a part again of the CCSD family.”

Dr. Hightower said senior staff from human resources, financial management and support services have worked together to develop a plan for transitioning back to in-house operations.

“We believe that we will be able to assemble an outstanding team of school custodians to ensure a smooth transition,” he said, noting the district plans to hire 214 full-time custodians.  “We will begin accepting applications in January, with priority placement to custodians currently working in our schools.  We plan to begin transitioning services in May with our team fully overseeing summer preparation work for next school year.”

The school district will offer competitive compensation, on a scale based on years of experience from $16.50 to $23.70 per hour for custodians and from $20.50 to $27.65 per hour for head custodians.  These will be full-time positions with benefits including State Health Benefit Plan healthcare insurance, as well as CCSD training, professional development and advancement opportunities.  

Each elementary, middle and high school will receive a head custodian position plus additional custodians allotted based on school size.  For all larger schools, one custodian will be named a lead custodian and receive an additional stipend for serving as back-up to the head custodian.  The school district also will recruit a pool of about 20 substitute custodians and offer an hourly rate of $18.75.

School board member Patsy Jordan raised questions out of concerns for custodial staff, including how their years of service would be recognized and the quality of the benefits they will receive.  Dr. Hightower said the financial analysis was based on a generous recognition of service and experience, and that custodians will receive the same healthcare, vision, dental and other benefits as other classified CCSD employees.  Additionally, he said, head custodians will qualify for the Teachers Retirement System pension program.

“Your concern is my concern,” Dr. Hightower said.

This change additionally includes a return to CCSD ordering and supplying all related supplies, including paper products and soap, as well as custodial equipment.  

BBBriefs Woodstock HS classroom addition rendering 12 15 23


Construction soon will begin on a new classroom addition for Woodstock High School following the school board’s approval Thursday.

The $17.45 million project funded by the Education SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) will be constructed by SmithBuilt Construction Group.  

The three-story addition, which includes 22 classrooms, will allow for the removal of portables on the campus and open up expansion of the Career Pathways program.  Woodstock HS is the only CCSD high school not offering the popular Pathway for healthcare science, and the addition among its benefits will provide the needed healthcare science lab classroom to do so.  The addition is scheduled to open for use in August 2026.

School board member Kelly Poole, whose children graduated from Woodstock HS, made the motion to approve with great enthusiasm, noting the project is “near and dear to my heart.”

“We’re very excited about this project,” School board Chair Kyla Cromer said.  “It’s much needed.  I appreciate all the work and effort that went into this.”

BBBriefs new leaders Dr Chad Flatt and Adam Holley 12 15 23

Dr. Chad Flatt, left, and Adam Holley.


As part of its approval of the monthly personnel report, the school board also approved two leadership appointments.

Dr. Chad Flatt, who currently serves as an assistant principal at Woodstock MS, will begin leading Freedom MS after the holiday break.  His appointment follows the decision by Principal Whitney Nolan to step down from the role at the semester break as she approaches her planned retirement.  Dr. Flatt was celebrated earlier this year in Washington, D.C. as a National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.  A 23-year educator who joined CCSD this school year, Dr. Flatt was named the Georgia winner for the national honor in May in recognition of his success as principal of Pickens Junior High School.

“It’s no easy task to follow Whitney, as she brings so much experience, enthusiasm and empathy to everything she does, but I know Chad will be warmly welcomed by the Freedom family and will succeed in his new role,” Dr. Hightower said.  “Chad is nationally known as an outstanding educator and administrator, and we look forward to seeing all he will do to build upon the outstanding legacy of leadership at Freedom.”   

The school board also approved hiring Adam Holley to begin as Jan. 23 as head football coach for Cherokee HS.  Mr. Holley, who will teach PE classes, most recently served as offensive coordinator for the Calhoun HS football team, and previously coached the Cartersville and Lee County football teams.

The school board also: 

•    Heard presentations from Dr. Hightower and his staff on this year’s Focus on the Future Career Pathway course guide and the state’s College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI) scores released Thursday morning
•    Recognized the school board as a 2023 Georgia Leading Edge Award winner for its community partnership program.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized Woodstock HS senior Owen Markette and Creekview HS sophomore Thomas Wang as Georgia Career and Technical Instruction statewide academic quiz bowl winners.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized the overall winners of CCSD’s 2024 Support Staff Employees of the Year Awards: CCSD instructional technology specialist Dixie Harper, R.M. Moore ES STEM Academy kindergarten paraprofessional Kim Howell and ACTIVE Academies Special Education facilitator Susie Okerblad.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized Mill Creek MS seventh-grader Saanvi Lamba as the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District essay contest Cherokee County winner.  Learn more here; 
•    Recognized E.T. Booth MS seventh-grader Mikaela Charles as the Cherokee County Water and Sewerage Authority’s countywide essay contest winner.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized River Ridge HS SkillsUSA for its Chapter of Excellence Award and junior Aidan Nemec for his Statesman Award.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized Etowah HS and River Ridge HS as National Junior ROTC Raiders Champions.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized Sequoyah HS teacher Casandra Hembree as Georgia Outstanding Achievement in Career Awareness and Exploration Award winner.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized CCSD’s Georgia High School Association state and regional champions.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized CCSD’s REACH Georgia Scholars.  Learn more here;
•    Approved a partnership agreement with SERV International; 
•    Approved monthly financial reports; 
•    Approved for staff, financial advisor and counsel to proceed with a bond public offering for Education SPLOST projects;
•    Approved out of state staff travel;
•    Approved out of state and overnight student field trips;
•    Approved the monthly update on capital outlay projects;
•    Approved special lease agreements; and,
•    Approved a real property exchange with the Cherokee County government through which CCSD receives land adjacent to the entrance driveway of the school board auditorium, and the county government receives five acres at CCSD’s 41-acre Julius Bridge Road future school site to build a fire station.