High school senior says he’ll confront Assembly on cuts
by Megan Thornton
October 20, 2012 03:34 AM | 4073 views | 2 2 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo’s funding frustrations expressed during Cherokee County Board of Education’s Thursday night work session were met with a resounding echo from a high school senior who said he plans to confront the Georgia General Assembly about continued cuts to education.

Luke Sellers, son of Mark and Jean Sellers, told the board during the public comment portion of the regular meeting he has been in Cherokee schools since the first day of kindergarten.

Sellers, who is senior class president at Woodstock High School, said he was recently awarded a U.S. Navy scholarship to attend Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Tonight I stand before you not as a critic, not as an angry citizen, but as a concerned and genuinely scared student,” Sellers said.

The senior said the school district has done a great job of distributing the financial burden over the last few years so students don’t feel the cuts, but said he noticed fewer Advanced Placement classes were offered this year as classes had to be combined or reduced because of fewer teachers.

“To be exact, since my freshman year of high school, August of 2009, for every 10 students that this county increases in student population, three teachers have left,” Sellers said, citing the Financial State of the District publication on the CCSD website.

“Yet Cherokee County has the highest SAT scores in the state and I applaud that and I am so proud. But should the situation continue to snowball downhill, I’m afraid the students of tomorrow won’t have the same preparation to achieve the high scores on those tests,” he said.

But Sellers defended the efforts of teachers like his parents—his mother, Jean, a social studies teacher at Woodstock High School and father, Mark, a fifth-grade teacher at R. M. Moore Elementary School.

“The declining quality of education has never been and never will be the result of willingness or effort put forth by the teachers in Cherokee County,” Sellers said and was met with a round of applause.

Sellers said entire families like his are feeling the furloughs, noting his parents can no longer supplement his sister’s Berry College education, so she decided not to return to the school.

“And it’s not your fault, I know that,” he said to the board.

Sellers then gave the audience a call to action.

“It’s time that we the people stand up and hold our legislators accountable for the job that they simply haven’t gotten done and don’t plan to do it seems,” Sellers said. “Should the situation continue to escalate, will children in the school system have the same opportunities I’ve been blessed with? The obvious answer is no…Please support me in my mission to go stand in front of the Georgia General Assembly so that we can make a difference and ensure the same top education for any up and coming Cherokee County student,” Sellers said.

After a standing ovation, Board Chairman Mike Chapman congratulated Sellers on his successes.

“I would ask you to do one thing,” Chapman said. “When you’re away at Harvard or MIT or wherever it is that you’re going to end up at, come home and vote.”

The meeting continued in a celebratory manner, with cake for the audience made by School Nutrition Supervisor Susan Turner and recognition of all district high school principals for their efforts in helping students post the highest SAT scores in the state.

Then students from Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy performed a song medley from their recent Fall Expo written by fourth-grade teacher Cortnie Freeman and the school’s new alma mater written by music teacher Jessica Carter.

“We’ve just had such a fun time delivering curriculum with a STEM focus,” said Principal Doug Knott.

Also at the meeting, the board:

* Approved 7-0 to put an advertisement in local newspapers to thank teachers and staff for their efforts to help Cherokee post the highest average SAT score in the state;

* Approved unanimously a bid by W.E. Contracting Co., Inc. to construct a new parent drive at Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy for a total of $558,216;

* Approved 7-0 the 2012-13 School Improvement Plans; and

* Approved unanimously partnership agreements with multiple entities.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Cheryl Bailey
October 23, 2012
Great article! And what a marvelous student to represent Cherokee county. I am long retired, but I have been so proud of having worked in Cherokee County Schools, and have always felt that the teachers and administrators have given their utmost in the best interest of their students. Keep up the good work!!
Reality Check
October 20, 2012
I'm sorry this student's sister can no longer afford the private education and expensive tuition of Berry College. As many parents in CCSD who'd like to opt out have discovered, private education is costly, even for 2 well-paid district teachers.

Perhaps if classrooms and teachers were funded first, and the super and admins funded last, there'd be enough money. A half-billion-$$ is enough to fund our district.

Here's the reality: America is in a severe recession. Property values have dropped, thus property tax revenue has dropped. Where do these "More Spending All the time!!" people propose we find more money? What's the magic source of money they're seeking to quench their thirst for infinite spending increases?

This is a thinly-veiled attempt to jack up taxes on a tax base that is already heavily-burdened by our recessive economy and inflation. Besides, recent record-high SAT scores after a few years of spending cuts prove that 'More Spending!' isn't the magic-bullet solution anyway.

CCSD should continue to make do with the half-billion $$ it already has rather than continuing to want more,more,more even as the rest of planet Earth is in a recession. Even with this reality, both of this student's teachers (and all CCSD teachers) are getting across-the-board 3% raises this January. How many of the Tribune's private-sector readers are getting 3% taxpayer-funded raises? How many of the Tribune's private-sector readers are making enough to send their child to expensive private schools like Berry College?

Yet, it is not enough for the More Spending crowd.

STOP TRYING TO RAISE OUR TAXES. We're tapped-out. & paying enough already!!

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