GCPS Board Meeting Summary for August 13, 2009

The following are highlights of the August 13, 2009, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. Board members present included Chairman Daniel D. Seckinger, Vice Chair Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, Carole Boyce, Dr. Robert McClure, and Louise Radloff. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.

Board salutes PTA leaders
-- The Board saluted two leaders of the Gwinnett PTA Councils for their outstanding service to Gwinnett County Public Schools during the 2008-09 school year. Teri St. Germaine, former Area I PTA Council co-president, and Alicia Trager, former Area II PTA Council president, accepted the Board's thanks on behalf of the leaders of Gwinnett's three PTA Councils. Council leaders not able to attend included Charlene Jefferson and Teresa Cantrell. All of these leaders were part of an extraordinary year... the year when Gwinnett's one PTA Council split into three Councils. This split allowed the Councils to provide additional training and support for local units and to acknowledge more students and schools through PTA programs. They were recognized for their support of the system's local PTA units, for initiating improvements in the council, and for their assistance on critical issues affecting Gwinnett's children.

Board accepts and allocates ARRA stabilization dollars
Earlier this year, Congress passed and President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, often referred to as ARRA, to create jobs and make needed, long-term investments. Under this law, Gwinnett County Public Schools will receive approximately $89 million. Nearly half of that total-- $40 million-- is categorized as “stabilization” dollars. This is not new funding for our schools, but replaces reductions that were made in the state’s Quality Basic Education (QBE) funding formula. The return of these dollars to our local district will allow us to preserve positions, preventing us from having to make further cuts in personnel allotments. In June, the Board of Education voted to accept the stabilization dollars. At tonight's meeting, School Board members approved an application to receive ARRA funding to offset the precipitous decline in state and local funding. The ARRA Funds (IDEA VIB, IDEA Pre-K, and Title I) will provide $49,026,748 to Gwinnett County Public Schools. For more on the school district's use of federal stimulus funds, interested parties may visit the Georgia Department of Education's web site.

Report indicates School Nutrition Program in sound shape
The Gwinnett County Board of Education reviewed an end-of-year report of the School Nutrition Program. In sharing the report, Chief Financial Officer Rick Cost thanked Director Ken Yant and his staff, along with all local school staff members who have made the school district's program so successful. On average, the program served 49,000 breakfasts and 119,000 lunches a day. This calculates to more than 8.8 million breakfasts and 21.4 million lunches served in Gwinnett lunchrooms last year. The program's aggressive menu planning has resulted in increased participation in both programs. At the elementary and middle school levels, lunch participation remained high at 84%. Breakfast participation increased slightly at these levels. Most impressive was the 4% increase in lunch participation at the high school level. All of this contributed to Gwinnett's stellar School Nutrition Program, one that is in a sound financial position.

County cuts affect Community Schools Program
As a result of funding cuts from the County government, the school district has had to make changes to the Community School Program. In late June, a long-standing, joint-use agreement with Gwinnett County government expired. This agreement paid for the salaries of Community School Directors, with the County funding three-fifths of the salary and the school district covering the remainder. With the expiration of this agreement, the district will have to recoup more than $1 million to fund the positions. Community School Directors will now facilitate all scheduling and rental contracts for every school in their cluster. Parks and Recreation groups will now become regular user groups, subject to the district's policies and procedures for facility use. There will be no change in the rental fee schedules for 2009-10. Additionally, the district is considering changes to the work schedule for Community School Directors for 2010-11 as a means to recoup lost funding.

School Board continues its policy work
As part of its ongoing policy work, the School Board approved the following policy changes that were tabled at last month's meeting to allow for public input:
Policy BAA- Board's Theory of Action for Change to Improve Student Achievement-- The title of this policy changed from "Board's Theory of Action for Student Achievement." Changes also align it with improvements in system processes.
Policy BAAB- Academic Accountability-- The descriptor code for this policy changed from IA. Changes also align it with improvements in system processes.
Policy BAAC- Operational Accountability-- This new policy has been created to ensure that a comprehensive operational accountability system is implemented that focuses on the standards, responsibilities, expectations, and consequences that apply to functional divisions in the achievement of district goals.

As part of its ongoing policy work, the School Board tabled the following proposed policy changes until next month's meeting to allow for public input:
Policy EBA- Race and Ethnicity Reporting-- This proposed new policy has been created to reflect improvements in system processes and mandates in state and/or federal law.
Policy JBCD- Student Transfers and Withdrawals-- Changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes as well as with mandates in state and/or federal law.