Gwinnett County Public Schools | Education - Newsletter

Volume 4, Issue 2

March 2007

Oh, the places they’ll go ... Fort Daniel 1st graders celebrate reading and Dr. Seuss during the March 2 Read Across America event. In classrooms across the county and at every grade level, Gwinnett schoolchildren receive a quality and effective education built around a rigorous curriculum and high-quality instruction. Read on to learn more about system initiatives, stewardship news, and more.

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“As the SACS CASI team noted, we serve our students and community exceptionally well in Gwinnett County Public Schools. We have never been larger, or more diverse, or more economically challenged, yet achievement levels for Gwinnett’s students are the highest they have ever been.”

Click here for a message from the CEO/Superintendent Wilbanks on GCPS’ systemwide accreditation, recently awarded by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).

Mr. Wilbanks

J. Alvin Wilbanks, CEO/Superintendent

Kudos for high-achieving schools, staff, and students

  • Kudos to a 2007 Georgia School of Excellence ... Click here to learn more about this statewide recognition for R.D. Head Elementary.
  • 14 Title I schools ‘distinguish’ themselves ... Fourteen schools with a high percentage of economically disadvantaged children have been named “distinguished schools." Click here for details.
  • National recognition for closing the achievement gap ... Twelve schools showed significant progress in closing the gap over three years, according to a national study. Read on when you click here.

And that’s not all. A well-regarded school system and great schools don’t happen without committed staff, eager students, and supportive families and communities. Here in Gwinnett, you’ll find award winners at every level in every school community, from academics and extracurriculars to leadership and system support functions. Click here and here to keep up with the latest honors. Award lists are updated periodically as schools, staff members, and students are honored at the state and national levels. “News You Can Use” is a weekly collection of honors and upcoming events submitted by local schools.

STARs shine at Gwinnett STAR Student-Teacher event ... From left, Gwinnett County STAR Students Clara Yang of Brookwood High, Steven Lau of Duluth High, and Elinor Willis of Meadowcreek High represent Gwinnett in the 2007 Region 3A STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition) competition. The three high-achieving students scored perfect SAT scores to earn the county honor. The region winner goes on to state competition later in the spring.
Click here to meet all of the local STAR students and teachers and to learn more about the county winners.

More rigorous state tests to measure GCPS learning

In the past decade, the alignment of Gwinnett’s rigorous AKS curriculum, quality instruction, and accurate assessments has led to high levels of academic achievement for our students. Since the original development of the AKS/Gateway testing program, the state has made strides in strengthening Georgia’s statewide curriculum and raising expectations on state assessments to a level roughly equivalent to the multiple-choice sections of the elementary and middle school Gateways. Learn more about how GCPS will blend more of the state tests into its promotion requirements when you click here.

CRCTs on the horizon for ES and MS

Georgia students in grades 3-8 will take the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) April 17-23. Younger students in grades 1 and 2 take the CRCT April 24-26. Attendance is important every day; students can’t learn when they’re not in class. And attendance is especially important on test days, when students get an opportunity to “show what they know.” In addition, CRCT participation is one of the key elements under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. (In late March, Gwinnett juniors take state graduation tests, also an NCLB-monitored assessment.) Click here and here for test-taking tips and here and here for CRCT information from the state Department of Education.

Board updates community in area meetings

Gwinnett County School Board members and the superintendent will be out in the community during April for Area Board Meetings. Participants will learn more about proposed budget plans and the Board will discuss education topics with citizens and staff in public forums. A meeting is scheduled in each of the five Board members’ districts and you’re invited. Click here for the schedule.

Progress report on new schools

  • Three new schools, replacement facility to open in August ... Buildings are under construction, boundary maps are set, and principals are named for Lovin Elementary in Lawrenceville, Mulberry Elementary in Auburn, and Patrick Elementary in Buford. Click here for maps, and here for links to the new schools’ web sites, including a message from each principal. Over the summer, Oakland School and its special education students will move to a replacement facility, Oakland Meadow School, in Lawrenceville.
  • GCPS gathering input on names for 12 new schools opening in 2008 and 2009 ... Through March 26, click here to suggest a name for one of 12 as-yet unnamed schools opening in 2008 and 2009. Committees in each school community will make recommendations, and the School Board will vote on names in April. Next fall, the system will begin the process to reassign students as school boundaries shift to accommodate the new facilities. Click here to learn about the news schools and GCPS’ plan for bringing housing and technology needs in check by 2014. (This first phase is funded with the penny tax for schools, which was renewed by voters in November.)

GCPS' stewardship news

  • System retains Aaa bond rating ... Once again, the school system has retained its Aaa bond rating, the only large U.S. system with the distinction. This high credit rating ensures GCPS’ bonds are very attractive to investors and the system is able to borrow money at the lowest possible interest rates. In a recent sale, GCPS sold $425 million in bonds to advance fund school construction projects. As a result, additional classrooms will be built sooner and at a lower cost. Click here for details.
  • GCPS saves millions with COPs refinance plan ... Just as a homeowner can refinance a mortgage to take advantage of lower interest rates, so can the school system benefit from refinance options. Click here to learn how GCPS recently saved more than $8.1 million.
  • FY2008 budget under construction ... Take note of key dates as the system builds its fiscal year 2008 budget. Following budget work sessions April 14 and April 17, the Board will adopt a tentative budget. Copies of the Superintendent’s recommended budget will be available for public review beginning April 23. Public hearings on the budget will be held May 4 and May 10, with the final adoption on May 10. The millage rate will be set in June.

Foundation to fund GCPS programs and activities

From left, the Shafers present their gift to Foundation President David Seago, CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks, and Foundation Executive Director Alexis Kirijan.

The new Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation Fund supplements and complements the programs and activities of the school system. Donors already are stepping up with generous contributions. Joseph and Dorothy Shafer, descendents of J. Floyd and Eunice Brannan, donated $106,000 for a scholarship in honor of the Brannans, who devoted themselves to improving Lawrenceville and the lives of its citizens. Area businesses also are supporting the fund, including a recent $10,000 donation from Georgia Power. Watch for more news about the Foundation, fundraisers, and funded programs in future issues of eNews and on the web.

Charter school takes shape through partnership

In August, 245 high school freshmen – hailing from all 20 GCPS middle schools – will step into a future with “infinite possibilities” as the inaugural class of Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology. A partnership of business and industry, higher education, and the public school system is taking shape as Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) prepares to launch this first charter school in August 2007. Leaders from businesses and colleges will serve as advisors to the school in some capacity – serving as a sounding board, helping to shape the school’s curriculum and instructional goals, lending their expertise, and supporting the school. Click here for a fact sheet to learn more about the system’s first charter school, and the pledged support from more than 50 business, community, and higher education partners.

Retirements, transfers prompt appointments

New schools and retirements mean that you’ll also see some new faces around Gwinnett. Click here for a list of new 2007-08 principals appointed to date, plus a handful of principal changes since August 2006, due to retirements and transfers.

GCPS career opportunities are a click away

The school system’s hiring process has moved online. Click here to explore career opportunities in GCPS.

System seeks GEMS committee applicants

June 1 is the deadline to apply for openings on the GEMS Oversight Committee. The committee meets annually for one to two days to review input from educators and community members on suggested revisions, deletions, and additions to the Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) curriculum. The group’s recommendations are presented to the superintendent for adoption by the Board of Education. Click here for an application.

Spring calendar bursting with activities

From spring break to Area Board Meetings, Gwinnett’s spring calendar is bursting with activities. Click here for a list of GCPS dates through early May.

Let’s stay in touch…
  • Tune into GCPS TV. Click here for programming and cable channels for GCPS TV.
  • Visit the GCPS Web site. Click here for the home page.
  • Check your email every other month for this electronic newsletter. Click here for the e-News archives.
  • Watch for the spring Communiqué, GCPS’ community newsletter. If you don’t receive Communiqué from your child’s school or in the mail, you can access this newsletter online when you click here. New this issue, click here to check out "Communiqué Connection," where you’ll find related links and resources.

We would like to hear your suggestions for topics to cover in future issues of this publication, or ways we can keep in touch if you do not wish to receive this e-mail publication. Thank you for your continued support of public education and of Gwinnett County Public Schools' efforts to become a system of world-class schools. Please e-mail with your feedback and suggestions.


©2007 Gwinnett County Public Schools. All rights reserved. 03/07

GCPS: 437 Old Peachtree Road NW, Suwanee, GA 30024-2978 (678) 301-6000
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2007 Gwinnett County Board of Education
Louise Radloff, Chairman; Carole Boyce, Vice Chairman;
Dr. Robert McClure; Dr. Mary Kay Murphy; and Daniel D. Seckinger,
CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks