GCPS Board Meeting Summary for January 12, 2006

Board attends to annual business at start of new year
January is the month for the School Board to elect its officers for the new calendar year. As the first order of business, Dr. Robert McClure, who represents District IV, was elected chairman for 2006. Louise Radloff, District V representative, was elected vice chairman for 2006. In accordance with policy, the School Board reaffirmed its policies, designated the Gwinnett Daily Post as the official media organ for the school system, and approved retaining the services of Thompson & Sweeny as its legal counsel. In addition, Board members approved the meeting schedule for 2006. Adopted School Board meeting dates include January 12, February 9, March 9, April 13, May 11, June 22, July 13, August 10, September 14, October 12, November 9, and December 14.

Board recognizes students, teachers, and schools
-- The School Board recognized Karen Campbell of Collins Hill HS on her first-place finish in a juried exhibit, sponsored by the Georgia Art Education Association. Principal Glenn McFall described Ms. Campbell as a teacher he truly admires, citing her leadership in the classroom and in the school community. GCPS Fine Arts Director Robert Andrews joined Mr. McFall's praise, calling Ms. Campbell an exemplary example of art educators in our county. In addressing the Board, Ms. Campbell said, "I am very fortunate to be allowed to turn my passion into a career." She also thanked the Board and school system for their support of the arts program and for realizing how vital the arts are to making the world a better place.
-- Board members honored Patricia Spencer of Harmony ES as the Georgia Art Education Association's 2006 Elementary Art Educator of the Year. In introducing Ms. Spencer, Fine Arts Director Robert Andrews said, "She is a dedicated, passionate, reflective educator who inspires her students." Principal Gary Yetter expressed his pleasure in having Ms. Spencer on his staff, praising the fantastic art program she directs at the school.
--Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Tricia Kennedy apprised the School Board and audience of another fine arts honor earned by a GCPS staff member. Robert Andrews, fine arts director, was tapped as the Georgia Art Education Association's Administrator of the Year for 2006. Ms. Kennedy reminded Board members of the many fine arts honors earned by students and staff. Ms. Kennedy and Visual Arts Teacher Debi West gave much of the credit for the system's award-winning program to Mr. Andrews' leadership. "He is a consummate professional and it is a privilege and honor to work with him," said Ms. Kennedy.
-- The Board saluted the Peachtree Ridge HS Competitive Cheerleading Team, this year's AAAAA state champions. Acting Principal Ann Dobrow introduced Head Coach Rob Spencer and Assistant Coach Molly Spencer, as well as the parents in attendance. Coach Spencer has led four teams to state championships and will go down in history as leading Peachtree Ridge HS to its first team championship. In introducing team members, Coach Spencer applauded their heart and thanked the school and school community for their support. Team members include Seniors Sherrie Bryant, Emily Conheady, Abby Gorman, Katie Ragusa, and Karley Watts; Juniors Kalyn Conboy, Helen Doan, Jen Mclool, Holly Reeves, and Kiersten Williford ; Sophomores Hillary Ackerman, Brittany Barfield, Ariel Gruzkowski, Chelsea Jennings, Michelle Jones, and Sarah Keel; and Freshmen Beth Girard and Kelly Reeves.

Board taps two leaders as principals
The Board approved two leadership appointments at its regular meeting. Dr. Steve Flynt, an assistant principal at Dacula HS, will be the principal of Peachtree Ridge HS. He begins his new position January 13, transitioning with Assistant Principal Ann Dobrow, who has served as acting principal since Dr. James Kahrs went out on medical leave. The Board tapped Kenney Wells, an assistant principal at Frank N. Osborne MS, as the principal of Berkmar MS. Mr. Wells' appointment is effective February 1 as the school's current principal, Dr. Barbara Lunsford, retires.

School Board members receive update on facilities use
With the opening of the Instructional Support Center, several school system facilities have been freed up for use by students and system programs. The school system's plans are to move Safety and Security to the 52 Gwinnett Drive facility. In addition, Lawrenceville East, which originally was a school facility, will be returned to use by students, housing the middle and high school GIVE Center programs. Phoenix High will have room to expand at its current Lawrenceville West location. In addition, Lawrenceville West will become the site for the International Newcomer Center. Vacated space at the Service Center will allow the departments of Transportation and Environmental and Supply Services to expand.

Staff and Board begin discussion on 2007-12 Building Program
The School Board received an update on preparations for the school system's 2007-12 capital program. Berney Kirkland, executive director to the Superintendent, provided a review of the system's first two Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax capital building programs-- known as SPLOST I and SPLOST II. The programs were approved by voters in March of 1997 and November 2001, respectively. When SPLOST II sunsets in 2007, it will have provided all that was promised, plus three additional schools. Ms. Kirkland cited several reasons for the success of the first two SPLOST programs-- good planning, strong community support, and a school system that has a proven record of good stewardship. Ms. Kirkland provided the Board with a review of upcoming activities that will be a part of the planning associated with the next building program which is being referred to as "The Plan." The school system will finalize the proposed projects in the next building program and share that information this coming spring. In addition, the school system will enlist the involvement of citizens who will plan and conduct the educational campaign, prior to the election. The School Board is expected in late summer to adopt a resolution calling for the November vote.

Dr. Cindy Loe, Associate Superintendent for Organizational Advancement, praised the school system's Planning department on the excellent job staff members do in forecasting growth. School system planners use census data, information from the Atlanta Regional Commission, cohort survival analysis, and other planning techniques to draft preliminary forecasts. In terms of its forecasts, the department's annual accuracy rate is above 99%. This year's five-year forecast, which will be available in February, will be used to finalize SPLOST III plans. The school system anticipates that by the end of SPLOST III, GCPS will have more than 175,000 students-- 30,000 more students than enrolled today. The school system projects the next building program will call for 32 to 35 new schools, primarily in the northeastern and western areas of the county. In addition to new schools, a number of additions will be needed in order to accommodate the anticipated growth.

A big portion of the task in preparing the next capital program is to anticipate what construction costs will be in 2012, and budget for those projects now. Chief Operations Officer Jim Steele briefed the School Board on the increased costs we are seeing today and those anticipated in the future. Overall, there has been a 30% increase in school construction costs throughout the Southeast. For example, in the last six months, concrete prices have gone up 17%, asphalt prices are up 18%, and steel prices are up 49%. In Gwinnett, there is a low supply and high demand for land. As a result, land prices have gone up tens of thousands of dollars per acre in the last few years.

CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks summed up the presentation by stating "'The Plan' is a big deal... And while we expect this next building program to be more challenging than any before, we expect projects to be brought in on time and within budget." Mr. Wilbanks informed Board members that additional information about "The Plan" will be shared during the Area Board Meetings, which are scheduled for April 2006 and will be held in the five Board members' districts.

Board continues update of policies
The Board approved the following policy which had been tabled at the December meeting to allow for public input.
- Policy KM – Visitors to Schools-- The proposed new policy complies with new requirements in state law.