GCPS Board Meeting Summary for June 21, 2012

The following are highlights of the June 21, 2012, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. Board members present included Board Chairman Louise Radloff, Vice Chairman Carole Boyce, Dr. Robert McClure, Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, and Daniel Seckinger. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.

Board recognizes students, teachers, and schools
- Traditionally, Gwinnett County Public Schools students have excelled on the Georgia Grade 8 Writing Assessment, ranking Gwinnett middle schools among the top schools in the state in terms of student performance. That being the case, it is not surprising that eight Gwinnett middle schools ranked in the state's top 20 based on scale scores on this year's test, with North Gwinnett MS taking the top spot in the state. Additionally in looking at the percentage of students scoring in the top performance level, North Gwinnett MS was the top performer with 36.6% of its students scoring at the "Exceeds Standards" level. Principal Wanda Law acknowledged the great work of all of her teachers, saying this honor reflects on all of them as students write across the curriculum at all grade levels. This recognition is just one example of how North Gwinnett MS' focus on literacy is paying off for students in terms of high achievement. Ms. Law shared further evidence of that high achievement, informing the Board that this group of 8th graders garnered 27 perfect scores on the writing test. Attending the Board meeting with Ms. Law and representing the teachers of North Gwinnett MS were Susan Harris, Laura Burgess, and LaToya Brumfield.

- Board members recognized two North Gwinnett HS students who earned study trips from the Cultural Services of the Embassy of France in the United States. Rising Juniors Kara Jones and Theodore Chang are two of 20 1st place winners nationally in the Green Connection contest which invited students to submit individual project proposals for local or personal environmental initiatives. The contest rules required that each presentation include a demonstration of the student’s interest in environmental issues and commitment to environmental protection. As honorees, the students will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to France, visiting LaRochelle and Paris from July 2 to July 13. Both students are taught by Janice Russell, a French teacher at North Gwinnett HS.

- Annually, students from across the district participate in the national language exams for the language they are studying. Students compete against both private and public school peers, and winners receive various accolades and recognition from the organization sponsoring each exam. Although the content of the exams varies slightly from language to language, to score the highest or second highest in the state reflects outstanding student achievement. This year, GCPS boasts outstanding student achievement in French, German, Latin, and Spanish, with 28 students recognized during the June School Board meeting for their 1st and 2nd place finishes on national language exams.




- School Board members congratulated North Gwinnett HS' Patrick Yaggy on his recognition by the Georgia Classical Association as Georgia Latin Teacher of the Year. This marks the second year in a row that a Gwinnett County Latin teacher has received this honor. The award recognizes outstanding educators who demonstrate sound teaching practices and exhibit evidence of ongoing professional growth. Mr. Yaggy’s passion for Latin is evident in all he does and he is definitely considered to be a leader among other Latin teachers in the district, state, and beyond.

-- Board members recognized 22 members of the Class of 2012 on their perfect attendance records during their K-12 education careers. The students are Barry Brady and Obumneme Imonugo, both of Brookwood HS; Eva Boateng of Central Gwinnett HS; James Gadea, Hannah Lee, Matthew McCain, and Tejal Vashi, all of Collins Hill HS; Tanya Bornstein and Brett Thomas, both of Dacula HS; Aby Abraham of Grayson HS; Chan Lee of Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology; Michael A. Bryant II of Lanier HS; Seung Kwan Baek, Kaitlin Cook, Seung Ha, Na Lee, and Angela Tuggle, all of Mill Creek HS; Robert Chambers and Alexandra Jones, both of Mountain View HS; Lauren Sowell and Kelsie Stanton, both of Parkview HS; Anabella Jacks and Tracey Vo, both of Peachtree Ridge HS; and Benjamin Harmon of South Gwinnett HS.

- Members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education saluted a Parkview HS team on its top finish in the Spring 2012 Georgia Stock Market Game. Each year, the Georgia Council on Economic Education recognizes outstanding teams from around the state for their efforts in playing the Stock Market Game. The Stock Market Game is designed to show students how the laws of economics unfold in the real world. Teams of students are given a hypothetical portfolio of $100,000 for 10 weeks. The Stock Market Game is a tool for helping students develop a solid understanding of how private enterprises operate. The Parkview team, comprised of members Kady Litwer, Lisa McManus, and Stephanie Parris, finished the game with $172,000. Mark Leviton, a teacher at Parkview HS, worked with the students during the competition. He has coached six state-winning teams.

- In another economics-related honor, School Board members congratulated Dr. Elfi Funk of Peachtree Ridge HS on her recognition as a Georgia Economics Teacher of the Year. Each year, the Georgia Council on Economic Education recognizes teachers who demonstrate:
  • A knowledge of economics appropriate to the grade level being taught;
  • An ability and willingness to use a variety of appropriate methods and resources in teaching economics;
  • Enthusiasm for the teaching of economics; and
  • Creativity for the teaching of economics.

- Wrapping up the kudos for the evening, Board members acknowledged the school system's Social Studies Department and its work with the Teaching American History Grant, which focused on "Examining Years of Economic Strides." This program was spotlighted as the Georgia Council on Economic Education as a "Program of Excellence." In 2010, Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Social Studies Department was awarded a $1.5 million grant to enhance the content knowledge of the school system's American history teachers. Dr. Debbie Daniell, social studies director, provided Board members with an overview of the program which has given Gwinnett teachers greater insight into the major events of history of America through an economics lens. Just this month, teachers participating in the grant-funded program visited New York City. Accompanying Dr. Daniell for the Board recognition were Dr. Scott Roberts and Stephanie Locke from the Social Studies Department and several teachers who have participated in the Teaching American History Grant.

Millage rate set, remains unchanged for the eighth year
On May 17, 2012, the Gwinnett County Board of Education adopted its FY2013 budget. As part of the budget process, the Board is required to adopt a millage rate to support the budget. A tentative adoption of that rate was done on May 17, and the Board gave its final approval at tonight's meeting. The Board adopted a millage rate of 19.25 mills for maintenance and operations (M&O) and 1.30 mills for debt service. This marks the eighth consecutive year that the Board has kept the millage rate at these levels.

Board hears presentation from STRIVE program graduate
A 2008 graduate of Norcross HS, David Saville, participated in the school district's STRIVE program and worked as manager of the NHS football team. STRIVE--Supported Training and Rehabilitative Instruction in Vocational Education-- is a community-based, vocational training program for young people (ages 18–21) who graduated from a Gwinnett school with an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) diploma. Upon exiting the STRIVE program, he applied for and was accepted into Clemson University's ClemsonLIFE program. In addition, he works as a manager for the university's football team. Mr. Saville made a presentation to the Board about his experience in GCPS and the STRIVE program.

BOE approves local plan for improving career and technical education and one-year funding application
Board members approved its local plan for improving career and technical education and a one-year funding application for FY2013 as part of its annual compliance with the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Grant. The plan includes budgetary information, assurances of compliance, and how the district will use federal funds allocated by the grant.

Board gives nod to GUIDE agreement
Annually, the Gwinnett County Board of Education and the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners enter into an agreement to support the operation of GUIDE, Inc., which develops and delivers local programs and services related to education about the prevention of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use and abuse. This year marks the 25th year that GUIDE has served Gwinnett's needs for a substance abuse prevention agency. The financial impact of this agreement for the school system is $32,750.

BOE continues updates to policies
Board members approved the following policy which was tabled at last month's meeting to allow for public input:
Policy IFBG- Responsible Use of Electronic Media: Changes were made to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.

Groups and citizens addressing the Board
- Khadijah Hawkins
- Carla Diaz
- Lorna Bledsoe