Skip To Main Content

Logo Image

Logo Title

Board Business Briefs: Superintendent's First Meeting

Board Business Briefs: Superintendent's First Meeting

The Cherokee County School Board on Thursday, March 21, 2024 heard a presentation from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Elizabeth Davis on her first two full weeks in the new role.  The school board also approved new school leaders for next school year and heard updates on new school construction projects. 

Dr. Davis announced at the meeting that she plans on presenting a progress report to the School Board at each meeting during her first 100 days.  She shared the first report at Thursday’s meeting; a video of the presentation and the report both are online here.

The report, which tracks the progress of her 100 Day Entry Plan posted online here, gives an overview of the work accomplished so far, as well as the work in progress and the work ahead.

During her first 10 days in the role, Dr. Davis visited all of CCSD’s 40 schools and centers as well as all district central office and operational facilities.  She visited more than 90 classrooms to see teaching and learning in action and to speak with teachers about their experience as CCSD educators.  

In addition to her school visits, Dr. Davis also met with several hundred stakeholders including individual meetings with School Board members and roundtables with parents, business and community partners, faith leaders and elected officials.

She additionally closely reviewed financial, staffing and retention, student achievement, safety and other key data points to gain a deeper understanding of district operations.

“I am amazed by the quality of professional staff in our schools and the depth of knowledge of our professionals,” Dr. Davis said of her initial visits and meetings.  She noted that she plans to continue gaining knowledge about CCSD and the community as a whole before presenting a preliminary report in May on her observations and clarity for priorities for next school year.

School Board Chair Kyla Cromer the energy, enthusiasm and openness that Dr. Davis brings to her school visits and stakeholders has not gone unnoticed.

“I’m getting lots of positive feedback,” she said.


From left, Matthew May, Justin Sanderson, Lisa Rich, Laura Akers, Lori Etheridge, Eric Herrick.

From left, Matthew May, Justin Sanderson, Lisa Rich, Laura Akers, Lori Etheridge, Eric Herrick.

As part of the monthly personnel report, the school board approved the appointment of three new principals and a new head basketball coach for next school year.

The three principal openings follow the retirement announcements last month from Dr. Richard “Richie” Carnes, principal of Creekland Middle School; Kim Hagood, principal of Carmel Elementary School; and Penny Valle, principal of Oak Grove ES STEAM Academy.

Matthew May, current principal of Mill Creek MS, will be moving to take on the same role at Creekland MS.  

Justin Sanderson, a 20-year educator, will lead Mill Creek MS.  He currently serves as an assistant principal at Etowah HS, a role he has held for seven years.  He joined CCSD as a teacher and football coach at Cherokee HS after teaching and coaching at schools in Cobb and Fulton counties.

Lisa Rich, a 14-year educator, will lead Carmel ES.  She currently serves as an assistant principal at Freedom MS and previously held that role at Dean Rusk MS following tenure as its instructional lead strategist.  She began her career as a paraprofessional at E.T. Booth MS, before advancing to serve as a Special Education teacher and department head there.  

Laura Akers, current principal of Johnston ES, will be moving to take on the same role at Oak Grove ES STEAM Academy.

Lori Etheridge, a 21-year educator, will lead Johnston ES.  She currently serves as an assistant principal at Boston ES and previously held that role at Mountain Road ES.  She joined CCSD as a Special Education teacher at Liberty ES after teaching at schools in North Carolina. 

Eric Herrick will be joining Creekview High School as a teacher and head girls basketball coach.  He currently serves in the same role at North Hall High School in Hall County.  Coach Herrick has 20 years of head-coach experience and 19 years of experience as a PE teacher.


Replacement Cherokee High School under construction.

Replacement Cherokee High School under construction.

As part of the monthly update on capital outlay projects, the school board heard a presentation on major school construction projects, all of which are progressing on budget and on time.

For the Cherokee High School replacement campus, set to open in August 2026, structural steel installation for the academic building is 90% complete, and placement of the elevated slab is underway.  Structural steel installation also is underway for the Career Pathways building, which will house the school’s numerous career education programs.  Exterior walls are going up for the main gym, with slab placement complete for the second gym and auditorium.

For the Free Home Elementary School replacement campus, set to open in August 2025, block wall construction is complete, with installation of various mechanical systems underway.

Construction also is continuing on the Creekland MS classroom addition and addition of a second gym for Creekview HS, set to open in August 2025, with utility installation underway.  

Construction is set to begin soon on the Woodstock HS classroom addition, scheduled to open in August 2026, with fencing complete and preparations for utility relocation underway.

The School Board on Thursday also approved taking steps to retire bonds early to reduce the cost of previous construction projects.  The measure decreases interest payments by $4.6 million over the next nine years and cuts the associated long-term debt by $24.4 million.

“Any time we can save our taxpayers, our constituents that much is amazing,” School Board member Kelly Poole said, noting strong stewardship and a “pay as you go” model have led to this success.

In related news, Ms. Cromer announced she had just received word that CCSD’s Office of Financial Management had again earned the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence from the Government Financial Officers Association for its most recent Annual Comprehensive Financial Report.  

The report, an optional higher level of accountability to stakeholders, is considered the gold standard in financial reporting.  The certificate is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting.  To earn it, an impartial panel must judge that the report meets its high standards for transparency.

The School Board also took the following action:

•    Heard a report on staffing for the return of a CCSD-staffed custodial department.  The Office of Human Resources has filled 88% of the 215 new jobs ahead of schedule, with plans to bring the new employees on board earlier than planned in April to increase school cleanliness;
•    Heard a report on CCSD’s overall employee retention rate, which at 96% remains higher than national and metro Atlanta averages, with work well underway to hire new teachers and staff for next school year to fill any needed vacancies created by retirements, relocations, etc.;
•    Heard a report on educational legislation that has passed or remains under consideration by the Georgia General Assembly;
•    Thanked teachers and staff for organizing Read Across America celebratory activities and their daily work to promote literacy, and thanked school theatre programs’ teachers, volunteers and supporters for their hard work and dedication;
•    Recognized School Board Member Appreciation Week.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized Creekview High School senior Kinley Sikes for being named a Candidate for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized CCSD’s 2023-24 STAR Students and STAR Teachers.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized CCSD 2024 Media Specialist of the Year Jennifer Cogdill of Woodstock High School.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized CCSD students for Georgia Educational Technology Fair top honors.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized Creekview High School Principal Michael Santoro for being named a finalist for the High School Principal of the Year award presented by the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized CCSD’s First LEGO League Super Regional competition winners from Mill Creek Middle School and R.M. Moore Elementary School STEM Academy.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized CCSD Middle School Academic Bowl Champions Creekland Middle School. and PAGE Academic Bowl for Middle Grades Region 2 winners, Creekland MS and E.T. Booth Middle School.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized CCSD’s 2023-24 Elementary School and Middle School Reading Bowl first-place winners, Hickory Flat Elementary School and E.T. Booth MS.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized CCSD’s 2024 Spelling Bee Winners.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized CCSD high school and middle school students selected for All-State Band and Orchestra.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized CCSD’s Georgia High School Association state and regional champions.  Learn more here;
•    Approved a new Partnership Agreement with Building Fires Inc. and the renewal of the Partnership Agreement with United Way.  Learn more here;
•    Approved School Board member Erin Ragsdale as delegate and Ms. Poole as alternate for 2024 Georgia School Boards Association Delegate Assembly;
•    Approved monthly financial reports; 
•    Approved out of state staff travel; and,
•    Approved out of state and overnight student field trips.


More photos are online here