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Board Briefs: School Board Approves Appointment of New Chief Operating Officer

Board Briefs: School Board Approves Appointment of New Chief Operating Officer

Dr. Debra Murdock

Note: A gallery of photos from the meeting can be found here [CONTENT_REVIEW InternalLink].

The Cherokee County School Board on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020 approved the appointment of a longtime CCSD leader as its next Chief Operations Officer.

Dr. Debra Murdock, a past Georgia High School Principal of the Year who currently serves as an Executive Director in the Office of School Operations, will begin leading the division this spring.

“Not only is Dr. Murdock renowned for how deeply she cares for and advocates for every student, she also is an experienced and effective leader who can rally teams through transitions and growth,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “I know she will excel in this new role and continue to raise expectations for our schools and their leaders.”

As Chief Operations Officer, Dr. Murdock will oversee CCSD’s schools and Principals, and the Transportation department, with a long list of responsibilities ranging from enrollment to student services to discipline.  

For the last six months, Dr. Murdock has headed up CCSD’s new Social and Emotional Learning initiative.  Dr. Hightower said, as part of the transition in roles this spring, he will work with Dr. Murdock to ensure this important effort remains at the forefront.  She is filling the Chief post vacated by Trey Olson, who is retiring April 1.  

“I am honored to be chosen to serve our outstanding school district as Chief Operations Officer,” Dr. Murdock said.  “I look forward to continuing to promote our District’s work in engaging the social and emotional health and well-being of our students and staff as part of my new role.”

A Cherokee County native who graduated from Cherokee High School, Dr. Murdock is in her 23rd year in public education, all of which has been served in CCSD.  Appointed as Cherokee High School’s principal for the 2010-11 School Year, where she earned the State’s top honor of Principal of the Year in 2014, she previously served as Principal of Teasley MS and as an assistant principal at Cherokee HS and at the former Chapman Intermediate School.  As an Executive Director in School Operations, she oversaw CCSD’s middle and high schools and Principals before being tapped to lead the Social and Emotional Learning initiative.

She began her career as a science teacher at E.T. Booth Middle School after completing her bachelor’s degree in education at Kennesaw State University.  Dr. Murdock since has earned master’s, specialist and doctorate degrees in the field, and, for the latter, was honored with the 2016 Outstanding Scholar of the Year Award from KSU’s Educational Leadership program.

Dr. Murdock and her husband, Lance, have two sons, who both graduated from Cherokee HS, and she is a past president of the Service League of Cherokee County.

small group discussion

Newly appointed Chief Operating Officer Dr. Debra Murdock, center, is congratulated by middle school principals Dr. Richie Carnes, Todd Sharrock and Matthew May after the board meeting.

As part of its approval of the monthly human resources report, the School Board also accepted the resignation of Julie Little, who serves as Executive Director of Risk Management & Benefits.  Ms. Little, who formed the department upon her hiring in 2000, is departing to serve as the first director of administration for her church, Canton First United Methodist.

woman standing in crowd

Julie Little was recognized for her years of exemplary service to the school district.

School Board member Mike Chapman was recognized by his fellow board members in appreciation for 15 years of service and presented with a milestone pin from the Georgia School Boards Association.  The Morrison Products executive has been a longtime advocate for career education and played a key role in the development of the Cherokee Academies and Georgia Education Coalition.  

board chair presents service pin

Board Chair Kyla Cromer presents Mike Chapman with a pin commemorating his 15 years of service as a School Board Member.

The School Board also:

• Re-elected Kelly Poole to serve another one-year term as Board Vice Chair; 

• Recognized Johnston ES kindergarten teacher Olivia Ruggirello as an Extraordinary Educators honoree;

• Recognized Avery ES, Bascomb ES, Holly Springs ES STEM Academy and Sequoyah HS for earning Governor’s awards honoring academic success and progress;

• Recognized CCSD’s Georgia High School Association State and Regional Champions;

• Approved the monthly financial reports;

• Approved the bond resolution and bond purchase agreement for Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (Ed SPLOST) bonds to fund voter-approved projects;

• Approved out-of-state travel and out-of-state and overnight field trips; and,

• Approved the monthly capital outlay projects report.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020