CANTON — The Cherokee County Board of Education has approved multi-year goals as a district and for each of its 40 schools and centers, and has started the process of getting state financing for new school construction projects.

Next year, the school district will begin its new five-year strategic plan, titled “Blueprint.” The 2020-2024 plan was developed over about eight months with input from staff, parents, students, community partners and volunteers.

The plan, approved by board members Thursday, states a new vision for the district: “Together, we will prepare the emerging generation to confidently rise up to limitless learning potential and success.” There are also updated core beliefs, focusing on “rigor, relevance and relationships”:

♦ We believe in a growth mindset, as every student can learn, achieve and thrive.

♦ We believe the meaningful connections we forge with students, families and community partners positively influence how we teach, lead and prepare graduates for success in a knowledge-based, technology rich and culturally diverse world.

♦ We believe safe, diverse and inclusive schools are critical for successful teaching and learning and strengthening our culture of belonging, kindness and possibility

“For the past three years, we’ve worked together to build upon the strong foundation constructed by the leaders and educators who came before us,” Superintendent Brian Hightower said in a statement. “While we’ve followed an outstanding strategic plan, it’s time for a new blueprint for our future. We’ve called it Blueprint because we see it as just that: a new long-range plan for our continued success. This is a very targeted plan, and we believe we’re going to do great things”; equity and access; organizational and operational effectiveness; family, partner and community engagement; positive culture and climate; and, quality workforce. For each of the priority areas, there are performance objectives with specific measures, such as increasing high school graduation rates and percentages of students scoring at grade level on the Georgia Milestones.

The Georgia School Boards Association and Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement contributed to the long-range plan. For more information, visit the school district website’s Open CCSD.

The school board also approved each campus’ school improvement plan. The plans are developed annually and each school establishes two three-year plans targeting student achievement, as well as research-based strategies for teachers.

CCSD has taken the first steps in three school construction projects, which are scheduled to begin at the end of the school year. The board approved a state-required capital outlay application for the three projects. To respond to student demand for a healthcare science career pathway at Sequoyah High School, the district is creating a classroom lab facility using existing space on the campus, which is to be installed between next June and August. A new gym is planned for Woodstock High School, and new classrooms are being added to Woodstock Middle School; these two projects are planned to be constructed at the same time from May to August 2022.

The next school board meeting is 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo Educational Services Facility, 1205 Bluffs Parkway in Canton.

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Shannon is a reporter covering education, city governments, crime, features, religion and other local news. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and currently lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

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