GCPS Board Meeting Summary for March 10, 2005

The following are highlights of the March 10, 2005, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.

School Board honors students and staff
-- School Board members honored Dr. Richard Holland, principal of Glenn C. Jones MS, for earning the Georgia Music Educators Association Administrative Leadership Award. Assistant Principal Wanda Law introduced Dr. Holland on behalf of Dr. Tonya Millsap, the school's band director. Dr. Millsap nominated Dr. Holland for his strong support of music education. In her nomination, she commended Dr. Holland, saying, "He believes in music education." She explained that in the school you hear music in the halls, see students playing in the classroom, and sometimes you'll even find Dr. Holland playing an instrument at the school. Dr. Holland accepted the recognition, saying he had been fortunate to have worked with great music educators over the years. He said, "Few things are as positive and beneficial for children as music education."
-- Dr. James Kahrs, principal of Peachtree Ridge HS, was commended by the School Board for his recognition as Georgia Thespian Administrator of the Year by the Georgia Thespian State Board. In his introduction, Dean Feldman, the school's fine arts department chair, praised Dr. Kahrs, saying he values and supports theatre education, knowing that the lessons learned in the classroom and on the stage are valuable for students. Dr. Kahrs gave credit for this honor to the students and staff who bring the arts alive through their dedication and talent. He said, "The arts are our soul and it's our job to feed and nourish the arts."
-- According to Executive Director for School Improvement Jean Walker, "Student achievement at Riverside ES, a 2005 Georgia School of Excellence, is rocketing under the leadership of Principal Craig Barlow." Dr. Barlow credits the school's academic success to high standards and high expectations embraced by the staff and community, a phenomenal staff focused on teaching and learning, and involved parents. A number of students, staff, and parents joined Dr. Barlow in accepting this recognition from the Gwinnett County Board of Education.
-- School Board Chairman Daniel Seckinger called for a special recognition of CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks, who was named one of four finalists for National Superintendent of the Year. Mr. Seckinger commended Mr. Wilbanks' ability to hire the right people, his passion for teaching and learning, and his drive to achieve the vision of a system of world-class schools.

School Board reviews success of Reading Recovery
School Board members heard a report on Reading Recovery, a district-supported reading intervention for 1st grade students. Presently, Reading Recovery is available in 40 elementary schools. Reading Recovery teachers are highly qualified teachers who not only work with students individually, but who serve as literacy specialists with small groups of children and with teachers to help raise the expectations and provide successful learning environments for all students. It has proven to be a cost effective program that has a positive effect on student achievement, as evidenced by fewer students being retained, fewer special education referrals, and a reduction in the time students spend in English for Speakers of Other Languages programs. The Board heard success stories from several schools including Arcado, Cedar Hill, Corley, Fort Daniel, Kanoheda, Mason, Meadowcreek, Minor, Mountain Park, Norcross, and Suwanee elementary schools.

Board receives update on state funding initiatives and educational improvement
Berney Kirkland, executive director to the Superintendent, briefed the Board of Education on the progress of the Governor's Education Finance Task Force. She provided information on the Investing in Educational Excellence (IE2) initiative and the work to develop a new state funding formula. Mr. Wilbanks, GCPS CEO/Superintendent, serves on the task force.

Superintendent provides legislative update
CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks provided Board members an update on legislative action relating to education. Midway through the session bills have been passed relating to a state virtual high school and a master teacher program. Senate Bill 35, covering flexibility in class sizes and expenditure test, could go to a vote soon but some amendments are expected. All three are part of the Governor's education package. Several bills appear to have stalled in the session, including the uniform calendar start date and the statewide sales tax to fund education.

Gwinnett celebrates School Board Member Appreciation Week (March 14-18)
During the week of March 14-18, Gwinnett County Public Schools will join in the statewide celebration of School Board Member Appreciation Week. This week-long observance, sponsored by the Georgia School Boards Association, calls attention to the contributions of local boards of education. CEO/Superintendent Wilbanks thanked the members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education for their service. He applauded their commitment to students and to fulfilling their responsibilities to the public, saying, "They are making a difference and we appreciate all they do."

Board continues update of policies
The Board approved the following two policy changes that were tabled for public input at its February meeting.
-- Policy DCI-Budget Amendment-- The approved policy revision includes minor changes to reflect current practice.
-- Policy FGG-Change Orders-- This policy was rescinded as information from this policy is contained in Policy DJE-Purchasing.

Citizens addressing the Board...
-- Bishop Leroy Watson, III (NAACP- Gwinnett Branch)
-- Reverend John Stewart, Jr. (NAACP- Gwinnett Branch)