2004 a banner year for GCPS, staff, students

2004 a banner year for GCPS, staff, students

Just a month into 2005 and Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) staff and students already are racking up the honors and awards, but let’s not let the 2004 calendar year get away from us without reflecting on some GCPS highlights…

• Responsible stewardship— In 2004, the Gwinnett County Board of Education (BOE) gave the green light to the Lease/Purchase Agreement with the Development Authority of Gwinnett County. To offset an anticipated shortfall in sales tax collections, this alternative financing program provides up to $300 million to continue building classrooms in the 2002–07 building program and to purchase land now, while it’s available, for the 30 or so new schools needed in the next building program.

The new Mill Creek High, one of 10 schools opened in 2004.
• New facilities— GCPS opened 10 brand-new facilities this past August, the most aggressive building program year yet in the school system’s history. The new schools— along with classroom space for a new technical education program and renovated space to house the Monarch School— opened on time, within budget, and completely debt-free. Mill Creek HS anchors the school system’s 15th cluster.

• Aggressive staffing— Extensive recruitment efforts paid off as GCPS opened the school year fully staffed, adding teachers, administrators, bus drivers, and other support staff to support student learning. In addition, 99% of the system’s non-Title I teachers and 98% of the Title I teachers are “highly qualified,” as defined by the state.

• Student achievement— Our schools are working to close the achievement gap, as students continue to achieve at high levels. Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, 85% of our schools met the state’s accountability goals. And nine schools made enough progress to move off the state’s Needs Improvement list. Gwinnett students continued to score above state and national averages on a number of standardized assessments, including the SAT, ACT, and the state’s Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests. In addition, GCPS reached an all-time high in participation on Advanced Placement exams.

• Student academic and athletic honors— Consider 36 International Student Media Festival winners, recipient of a national Prudential Spirit of Community Award, a U.S. Presidential Scholar and two semifinalists, 11 National Merit Scholars, and a state STAR student finalist. Several students earned perfect scores on college admission tests. Teams and individuals also earned top national and state honors in math, foreign language, language arts, economics, science, technical education, geography, music, reading, and journalism. Teams brought home state athletic championships in boys basketball, cheerleading, girls and boys cross country, softball, boys and girls swimming, and wrestling.
Kanoheda ES teacher Susan Ralstin, winner of a Milken Award

• Top schools and staff— In 2004, Gwinnett celebrated these and many other honors… top national and state teaching/advocacy awards in counseling, art, music, math, science, foreign languages, ROTC, technology education, special education, filmmaking, and school leadership; state athletic coaches of the year; three Title I Distinguished Schools; state Teacher of the Year finalist; and national Milken Award winner. In addition, 43 Gwinnett teachers earned national board certification.

• Instructional Support Center (ISC)— In December, the School Board announced plans for the renovation of an existing manufacturing facility to house the school system’s instructional and administrative personnel, with move-in planned for December 2005. The ISC will benefit students, employees, and taxpayers by ensuring support for the system’s core mission of teaching and learning. In addition, it allows the school system to free up current space that can be used for systemwide programs and services, making better use of existing facilities to meet other student needs.

• Recognized leadership— CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks is Georgia’s 2004 Superintendent of the Year and was honored as one of four finalists for 2005 National Superintendent of the Year.