GCPS Board Meeting Summary for February 12, 2009

The following are highlights of the February 12, 2009, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. Board members present included Chairman Daniel D. Seckinger, Vice Chairman 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.

Students and staff members earn Board recognition
-- School Board members saluted the Department of Special Education and Psychological Services on a recent recognition earned from the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Council for Administrators of Special Education (GCASE). At GCASE's annual fall conference, Gwinnett County Public Schools was recognized as a leader in the state of Georgia for outstanding efforts to improve the academic performance of students with disabilities. Data from the 2007-08 school year reflected the school system's accomplishments. This recognition is achieved by meeting the state target for:
  • educating young children in the least-restrictive environment;
  • reducing the percentage of students with disabilities who drop out of school;
  • increasing the percentage of students with disabilities who graduate with regular education diplomas;
  • increasing the percentage of students with disabilities who meet or exceed state achievement standards for math; and,
  • increasing the percentage of students with disabilities who meet or exceed state achievement standards for reading/English language arts.
    This recognition honors the entire Department of Special Education and Psychological Services, which includes GCPS special education, collaborative, and general education teachers; local school leaders; special education directors, coordinators, and support personnel; curriculum/instruction directors and support staff; and the parents of students with disabilities. Susan M. White, executive director of Special Education and Psychological Services, accepted the recognition on behalf of her department, thanking the Board and leaders and staff at both local schools and in the central office for their support. She was accompanied by members of her leadership team.
    -- Board members lauded Director of Foreign Language David Jahner who was recently named National Foreign Language Supervisor of the Year by the National Association of District Supervisors of Foreign Languages. Mr. Jahner earned the national honor based on criteria which includes service to the profession at the local, state, regional, and national levels, as well as evidence of ongoing professional growth. He has served as GCPS Director of Foreign Language for 10 years. Dale Robbins, associate superintendent for Teaching and Learning, recognized Mr. Jahner's command of the content, his enthusiasm, and his caring support of the teachers in his department. In accepting his award, Mr. Jahner acknowledged the contributions of Gloria Ernest, his assistant, and the wonderful foreign language teachers in the district.
    -- Kudos went to North Gwinnett HS Air Force JROTC Program for earning an "Exceeds Standards" evaluation rating-- the highest possible-- through an overall unit assessment conducted in December 2008. The North Gwinnett unit received the highest rating based on the following determinations: excellent facilities, talented and dedicated instructors who create a dynamic and supportive learning environment in and out of the classroom, cadets who display exemplary pride, and extensive participation in numerous community service projects. Accepting the award on behalf of the unit were CM Sgt. Mike Shannon, Major Bruce Bonds, Cadet Corps Commander Colonel Chloe Babcock, and Principal Ed Shaddix. Mr. Shaddix noted that CM Sgt. Shannon and Major Bonds are committed to "developing citizens of character dedicated to serving their community and country." He noted that Cadet Babcock recently learned of her appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy. The North Gwinnett program serves 120 students.
    -- The Gwinnett County Board of Education expressed its appreciation to Dr. Earl Grubbs for his assistance in the district's automated external defibrillator (AED) program. Georgia law requires school districts to have the involvement of a licensed physician to ensure compliance with legislative mandates for the use of AEDs. Dr. Grubbs serves as the district's oversight physician. His contributions to the program have included reviewing procedures, defining standards for AED use, and keeping GCPS apprised of best practices for use of AEDs in the school setting. Dr. Grubbs thanked staff and the Board for their support of the AED program.

    Gwinnett Board proclaims February 17 as PTA Day in Gwinnett County Public Schools
    In observance of the National PTA’s founding 112 years ago, the School Board proclaimed February 17, 2009, as PTA Day in Gwinnett County Public Schools, acknowledging the PTA as a valued partner in GCPS' quest to become a system of world-class schools. In saluting the PTA, Board members acknowledged that PTAs play an instrumental role in helping local schools establish and maintain goals that focus on meeting the needs of all students. In a proclamation, the Board of Education also noted that Gwinnett's PTAs have distinguished themselves as respected advocates for children, families, and public education in Gwinnett County. Gwinnett County Public Schools is served by three PTA Councils. The Area I Gwinnett Council of PTAs is led by Co-Presidents Teri St. Germain and Charlene Jefferson and includes local PTA units in the Brookwood, South Gwinnett, Shiloh, Meadowcreek, and Parkview clusters. The Area II Gwinnett Council of PTAs is led by President Alicia Trager and includes local PTA units in the North Gwinnett, Collins Hill, Peachtree Ridge, Norcross, and Duluth clusters. The Area III Gwinnett Council of PTAs is led by President Teresa Cantrell and includes local PTA units in the Berkmar, Central Gwinnett, Dacula, Grayson, and Mill Creek clusters. Accompanying the area PTA presidents were Ginger Ragans, Area I treasurer, and Carol Ranft, 12th District Director for Georgia PTA. Ms. Ranft noted that Gwinnett's 57,827 PTA members in 103 local units account for more than 20% of the state's PTA membership.

    GCPS kicks off community-based mentoring program
    Dr. Jim Taylor, executive director of Academic Support, briefed Board members on the school district's efforts to launch a community-based mentoring program to help provide support and encouragement to middle school-aged male students. The key element in the program is the involvement of the “community.” A number of adults in the community have stepped forward to work with their schools and students on this initiative. At this time, 47 community leaders have been trained in best practices for effective mentoring, and additional mentors will be trained in the coming weeks. The program currently focuses on middle school males of color. A high school component is in development as is a program to serve Hispanic males. The mentoring program curriculum includes building self-esteem, effectively communicating with adults, dealing with peer pressure, respecting self and others, and becoming young men of distinction. Schools have identified 60 students to be served in the program. Stan Mayweather serves as GCPS' community liaison, working with this program.

    Board receives report on district's United Way giving
    GCPS United Way Campaign Co-Chairs Jean Walker and Kelly Herndon shared news of the school system's successful 2008 United Way campaign. During the month of October, staff and students pledged and donated $516,675.35 to United Way. Student campaigns accounted for more than $50,000 of the money raised. The school system conducted the second largest campaign in the county and the largest school system campaign in the state. Notable among the school campaigns was the one launched at Lilburn ES. Lilburn Principal Wandy Taylor shared the spotlight with Teachers Gael Goin and Kelly Pharis, who ran the school campaign. Lilburn ES had the largest overall school campaign ($14,266.53) and the largest student campaign ($4,365.53), with 100% participation. Taking part in the celebration was Demetrius D. Jordan, the United Way Area Director for Gwinnett.

    Superintendent and Board receive update on IE2 Partnership Contract
    As part of the district's continuing efforts to communicate on the recently approved IE2 partnership contract, Dr. Steve Flynt, chief academic officer, reviewed information that is available on the school system's web site. He also briefed the Board on local school plans to implement flexibility. He shared that flexibility will be implemented with careful planning, based on conversations with faculty, staff, and the community, with oversight by Area Superintendents. Dr. Flynt explained that schools will use an expanded Local School Plan for Improvement (LSPI) to outline school improvement efforts, taking into account both flexibility and accountability measures. LSPIs are created with the involvement of staff, schools, and PTAs.