March 2004

In this issue

Welcome to the first edition of Gwinnett County Public Schools' e-newsletter… a quick, easy way to learn more about Georgia's largest school system. You'll find stories on teaching and learning, school leadership and governance, and the partnerships that make Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) successful.

In August, Gwinnett will open nine new schools, including Mill Creek High School, pictured above. All of these schools will be staffed with veteran GCPS principals at the helm. Several school leadership changes have been announced as longtime administrators move from existing schools to the new facilities, and additional principal appointments are made. Click here for the list of 2004-05 principals.

School Board takes next steps in lease/purchase financing agreement

Progress continues to be made in establishing the lease/purchase financing plan that will allow GCPS to keep building classrooms its students need. Terms of the agreement between Gwinnett County Public Schools and the Gwinnett County Development Authority have been accepted by both parties. Work is underway on finalizing the financial structure, which will be ready for approval in March or April.

Under the agreement, GCPS will obtain funding through the Authority for construction and capital improvements approved by voters in the November 6, 2001, sales tax referendum. GCPS will make annual payments to the Development Authority until the lease is paid, using revenue from the one-cent sales tax.

The lease/purchase financing plan has several benefits. It allows the school system to keep building classrooms while taking advantage of a very favorable economic climate. Interest rates are at a 40-year low and the school system's credit rating is the best it can be-triple A from Moody's Investors Services. That means GCPS can obtain the advance funding it needs at very low cost. In addition, land, which is becoming more scarce and more expensive, can be purchased now for approximately 30 new schools needed in the next building program.

A public hearing on the lease/purchase financing option is scheduled prior to the School Board's March 11 meeting. The public hearing will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room at the school system's Lawrenceville East facility, located at 723 Hi-Hope Road in Lawrenceville.

School system is a community partner in war on drugs and violence

Recent findings from the Gwinnett County Grand Jury indicated citizens need to learn more about drug and gang-related crime. GCPS encourages young people and their families to learn as much as they can. Students learn about drug abuse and violence prevention in class and through special programs that promote a safe learning environment and teach students to make good choices. In addition, the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Counseling programs, along with the school system's School Resource Officers, provide prevention and intervention resources that benefit students and families. For more on resources available through the schools, click here.

New Grayson Technical Education Program gives students the 'edge'

The new Grayson High School Technical Education Program will offer cutting-edge courses, through a half-day program or an evening schedule, that go beyond what is available at students' regular high schools. Students will explore career options through programs like Technical Theater; Biotechnology; Veterinarian Technology; Hospitality, Travel, and Tourism; and Digital Media and Design.

Registration for fall classes in the Grayson High School Technical Education Program will be held this spring in all Gwinnett high schools. Click here for details.

DOE seeks input on curriculum revisions

In an effort to improve the statewide curriculum, the Georgia Department of Education and education experts considered best practices in developing the new Georgia Performance Standards, currently under review.

Parents, educators, and community members are invited to review the curriculum and make specific comments through March 31. The State Board of Education is expected to act on the curriculum changes in May.

In Gwinnett, teams of teachers are reviewing the draft curriculum. The GEMS Oversight Committee, which annually reviews Gwinnett's AKS curriculum, also will be asked for input on the suggested changes.

After the State Board adopts the new state curriculum, GCPS will make any changes necessary to align the AKS with the state curriculum, while maintaining its high expectations for teaching and learning.

Click here to review the proposed state curriculum online.

Gwinnett superintendent chosen for influential state task force

CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks is one of 19 Georgia leaders appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue to study state education funding. The task force will reexamine the Quality Basic Education (QBE) funding formula, which determines how state funds are allocated to Georgia's K-12 schools.

With so much riding on state funding and school-related legislation, GCPS is well served by keeping the county's 23-member legislative delegation informed of important education issues. For a look at GCPS' 2004 Legislative Program, click here.

2002-07 Capital Program Update-- Aggressive building program continues as enrollment grows

Great schools, a strong curriculum, and a community that cares about education have made Gwinnett County an attractive place to raise a family or locate a business. In fact, for five straight years, GCPS has welcomed 6,000-plus students per year, swelling the student population to 129,000 this school year.

As Gwinnett's school population has grown so have housing challenges, prompting the system's most aggressive building plan ever. The 2002-07 building program calls for 11 elementary schools, four middle schools, two high schools, and three replacement facilities— plus additions to 40 schools and three renovations at existing facilities. The projects total 1,989 additional classrooms. Click here to find out more about GCPS' building program, classroom needs, and funding for growth. For the 5-year enrollment forecast, click here.

Teachers become students in workplace 'classrooms'

Each summer, a group of GCPS math, science, and technology teachers engage in a learning program based in local businesses and industries. The Georgia Industrial Fellowships for Teachers (GIFT) program places teachers in workplace settings for six to eight weeks where they get real-life business experience to take back to the classroom. An information meeting for teachers is scheduled for March 18. For more information or to learn how your business can host a teacher, visit the CEISMC (Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing) Web site.

Upcoming Important Dates in GCPS

March 11: Public hearing on the lease/purchase agreement (5:30 p.m.), to be followed by Board of Education meeting at 7 p.m.
April 15: Board of Education meeting, 7 p.m., Lawrenceville East
April 13, 20, 22, 27 & 29: Area Board Meetings
For Area Board Meeting locations and other school system dates, click here.


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 for some reason you do not wish to receive this e-mail. 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 email with your feedback and suggestions.


©2004 Gwinnett County Public Schools. All rights reserved. 3/04

GCPS: P.O. Box 343, Lawrenceville, GA, 30046-0343. 770.963.8651

Gwinnett County Board of Education
Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, Chairman; Dr. Billy Britt, Vice Chairman; Daniel Seckinger;
Dr. Robert McClure; and Louise Radloff
CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks