A Decade of Dedication to Educational Excellence

The 2010-2019 decade focused on continued improvement and expansion of opportunities for students, while balancing facility and fiscal needs with resources. Below is a brief summary of several actions taken and accomplishments achieved by the Catoosa County School System.

I.     Opportunities for Students (Reinventing Education in Catoosa County)

  • Meeting diverse student needs by expanding and improving opportunities.
    •  Several major steps were taken to bring all schools up to modern day technology standards. System-wide upgrades were made in every school/every classroom. These included: an interactive whiteboard, projector, “modern” classroom computer, and upgraded wiring/infrastructure.
    • Following infrastructure upgrades, one-to-one technology was initiated providing an electronic device to every student in the innovative Let’s Get CONNECTed! Project.
    • The ACE Team - Superintendent’s Advisory Council for Excellence – was created to discuss education issues and receive input from parents.
    • Also, the Graduation Task Force was created to focus on obstacles to graduation and best practices to eliminate those obstacles.
    • To further meet student needs and improve their potential for graduation the Performance Learning Center capacity was expanded and hours extended. Also, Catoosa Online Academy (COA) was created to allow “learning without limits” for students who needed or preferred added flexibility.
    • Participation in REACH Georgia was initiated. This is a needs-based mentoring and scholarship program designed to ensure academically promising low-income students have the academic, social, and financial support needed to graduate from high school and attend college.
  • CCPS became a Georgia Charter System which:
    •  provided broad flexibility from State Board Rules and Department of Education guidelines,
    • increased funding for innovations at each school - approximately $1 MM a year directed to students,
    • established Local School Governance Teams for each school, and
    • introduced the idea and need for a new College and Career Academy (CCA).
  • An exploratory committee for a CCA was established to confirm community interest, need, and commitment to support the Academy.
  • Board of Directors for CCA was established and worked with others to complete planning and obtain a $3 million grant for the new Academy which is planned to open in 2022.
  • The first hands-on student involvement for the CCA occurred in 2019 when 16 students from all three high schools became the first CCA cohort in Mechatronics at GNTC.
  • Closely aligned with the College and Career Academy concept, the “From Here to Career” class was launched at all three high schools in 2019. This program helps students identify their individual interest and abilities and how those align with various careers. It then helps students select specific career pathways of classes at their high school.

 

II.     Safe, Clean, and Well-Maintained Modern-Day Facilities for Students

  • Student Physical Safety and Social/Emotional Health
    •  Student safety was significantly enhanced by: installing a “buzz-in” system at all schools which requires a photo-ID before being allowed to enter; installation of new security cameras inside and outside schools; installation of a real-time communication system where local law enforcement can view within school corridors if an intruder gets in (SIELOX); and SROs assigned to all schools. 
    • To help tend to student health, nurses were (are) provided at all schools as were (are) AEDs, and property was provided so that the Tiger Care Clinic Primary Healthcare could open at Tiger Creek Elementary.
    • Following bench-marking at other schools and piloting locally, the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) framework was installed at all schools. PBIS is a proactive approach to establishing the behavioral supports and social culture needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional and academic success.
    • Mental Health Task Force was formed due to a national issue of increased anxiety, depression, and suicide in school-aged youth.  The Mental Health Task Force researched student mental health concerns and determined initiative to support Catoosa students.  Initiatives include: “Gatekeeper” training in Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) Framework, Interconnected Systems Framework to contract with mental health professionals to provide school-based services, National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) Training, and continuing/expanding the PBIS Framework in every school.
  • Several major revitalization projects were undertaken to meet student needs and ensure equability among schools. These included:
    •  Lakeview Fort Oglethorpe High School – renovated science classrooms and labs, remodeled the main office and entrance, expanded the cafeteria, updated the kitchen, constructed the performance gymnasium, remodeled the locker rooms, added a weight room for female athletes, and football stadium improvements included new bleachers, new press box, and new track.
    • Ringgold High School and Ringgold Middle School campus – rebuilt/rerouted roadways which helped safety and traffic flow; increased parking spaces for schools and sporting events; constructed long-needed middle school softball and baseball fields, isolated most utilities underground; and built an Auditorium and new Art Center which was destroyed by the 2011 tornado.
    • Transportation and Maintenance Departments – purchased property and relocated from the Ringgold campus. This allowed the property to be returned to RHS/RMS for student activities. It also improved safety, security, and maintenance for buses.
    • Graysville Elementary School – constructed new classrooms and offices, renovated classrooms, demolished older parts of building, and built a new playground. 
    • Other projects included: Lakeview Middle School front office renovated and breezeway at back of school enclosed; Lakeview and Heritage Middle School baseball and softball complexes upgraded to match the new fields at Ringgold Middle School.
    • Tornado – Reconstruction to restore Ringgold High and Ringgold Middle School buildings and campuses.

 

III.     School System Management and Oversight

  • Student Centered
    •  As a result of the proactive steps describe above, the school system graduation rate increased from 76.4% for the 2010-2011 school year to 87.4% for the 2018-2019 school year.
    • CCPS has recognized the value of maintaining academic accreditation by state and SACS/Advanced Ed for many years and has committed to embracing best management practices to ensure continued accreditation.
    • As previously mentioned, CCPS received a$3MM grant for the CCA from TCSG (received grant with the highest score ever in December 2019) to better serve students.
  • Fiscal Management
    •  Balancing Needs with Resources (Surviving a Financial Crisis)
      • Sound fiscal management was essential because the decade started with school systems throughout the state trying to survive severe budget cuts from the state due to the economic downturn. CCPS took a number of steps to ensure a balanced budget while minimizing impacts to student services: reduced staff; implemented furlough days; shortened school year; froze employee salaries; and as a last resort, increased the millage rate.
      • Fortunately, the economy recovered in the second half of the decade allowing the above actions to return to more “normal” conditions and a reduction of the millage rate to essentially that at the beginning of the decade. The millage rate was 16.773 in 2010 and 16.905 in 2019 after reaching a maximum of 18.713 in 2013.
      • As a result of sound fiscal management practices, CCPS earned Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts Award of Distinction for Excellent Financial Reporting.
  • Another benefit resulting from sound fiscal management and economic recovery is that the school system was able to work with officials to create a new Homestead Exemption for elderly lower-income citizens.
  • BOE has earned and maintained the highest award granted by the Georgia School Board Association “Exemplary School Board” status for several years. The Exemplary distinction is the highest honor any board of education can receive. Catoosa County’s Board of Education met or exceed the criteria for strategic planning, accreditation, compliance, and training to accomplish this honor.

 

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