GCPS Board Meeting Summary for August 16, 2012

The following are highlights of the August 16, 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 and staff
- Board members recognized a team from Duluth HS on its 2nd place finish in the National Geography Challenge. The National Geography Challenge, sponsored by the National Council for Geography Education, is a multiple-choice, question-based contest. The contest-- with divisions for grades 7-9 and grades 10-12-- requires 35 minutes and contains 50 questions. The division contests reflect the main themes of Geography, and are appropriate for each grade level. The Duluth HS team scored the second highest score in the country on this test. Team members include Christopher Baleanu, Alex Broomfield, Kisham Chudasama, Keon Grant, Lexie Hofmann, Joel Katz, Surya Narayanan, Vishnu Ramachandran, Michael Xu, and Danny Zang. Principal Jason Lane and Teacher Geri Flanary accompanied team members to the meeting.
- In addition to recognizing the team, the School Board also recognized Christopher Baleanu of Duluth HS on his 1st place finish in the National Geography Challenge. He tied for 1st place with a student from Virginia.
- The Gwinnett Board of Education saluted two Collins Hill HS students-- Alain Joyz Santos and Nauman Lalani-- on their 2nd place finishes nationally in the Technology Problem Solving Team competition sponsored by the Technology Student Association (TSA). As members of this team, students work together to develop and create a solution to a problem using the limited materials provided and the tools allowed. Completed solutions were objectively measured and judged to determine the best and most effective solution for the stated problem. Students recognized tonight competed at the National TSA Conference June 21-25, 2012, in Nashville, Tennessee. Accompanying these award-winning students were Principal Glenn McFall and Teacher Barrie Gillespie.
- Sweetwater MS recently garnered national recognition as a team from the school took top honors in the National WordMasters Challenge. WordMasters is a high-level vocabulary competition based on analogies. The students being recognized tonight participated in the Gold Division, the highest division, for all three meets during the 2011-12 year, coming in 1st place in the nation at each meet. Team members include Ibum Obu, Joshua De La Fuente, Kaitlyn Choe, Rodrigo Herrera, Nabid Farvez, Darlene Praseuth, Jorge Valle, Mariela Prieto-Torres, Jeremiah Scott, Sofia Salazar, James Ha, and Buduka Ogonor. Principal Georgann Eaton and 6th Grade Teacher Lois Bean shared their pride in their students' accomplishments.

School Board approves resolution urging support of public schools
The November 6 General Election ballot in Georgia includes a proposed amendment to the State's Constitution regarding the authorization of charter schools. The Gwinnett County Board of Education adopted a resolution stating its support for quality public education in schools approved by locally elected boards of education. In the resolution, the Gwinnett School Board urges the Governor and state legislators to commit to adequately funding quality public school education for all K-12 students in Gwinnett County and throughout Georgia; to acknowledge the countless, unheralded successes of public schools in the state; to cease efforts to erode local control of public schools; and to encourage the innovation, flexibility, and accountability that are necessary for Georgia's public schools to continuously improve. It also states a request that voters of the state of Georgia oppose the Constitutional amendment relative to state approval of charter schools, which will be on the November 6, 2012, General Election ballot. A copy of the resolution will be sent to the Governor, appropriate state representatives and senators, the State Board of Education, and the Georgia Department of Education.

Board recognizes community-based mentors
Dr. James Taylor, executive director for Academic Support, provided Board members with an update on the district's Community-Based Mentoring program. The mission of this program is to provide community-based mentoring to identified at-risk students. The mentors volunteered their time and efforts to establish one-on-one and small-group mentoring relationships with middle school students. Through numerous workshops and activities, the mentors encouraged and supported students in the curriculum areas of self-respect, effective communication, leadership skills, and financial literacy. This past year, 81 men served as mentors. Throughout the year, these valued community members worked with the director of the program, James Rayford, and Instructional Coach Andrew Toney. Click here for a list of those who served as mentors in this program last year.

School system presents completion report on SPLOST III
Chief Financial Officer Rick Cost presented a completion report on SPLOST III to members of the Board of Education. Over the life of the five-year SPLOST, the district collected $659,414,155. All projects promised to voters were completed on time. Mr. Cost shared that the average monthly collections for the final year of SPLOST III were higher than they had been in recent years. He indicated this trend bodes well for SPLOST IV, the extension of the sales tax which was renewed by voters in November of 2011. Collections for SPLOST IV began July 1, 2012, and will be monitored during the five-year SPLOST program.

Board receives update on Vision for Public Education in Georgia
In 2009 and 2010, the Georgia School Boards Association and the Georgia School Superintendents Association partnered in a project to develop a new "Vision for Public Education in Georgia." A planning team composed of 31 superintendents and school board members worked for more than a year reviewing research, hearing from national experts in a variety of education-related fields, and studying best practices. The review resulted in 45 recommendations in seven component areas. Plans for dissemination and implementation of the recommendations across the state began in 2011. Chief of Staff Berney Kirkland provided a status report on the Vision project, as well as the plans for continued emphasis on the recommendations moving forward. Click here to visit the Vision for Public Education in Georgia website.

Citizens Addressing the Board
- David Johnson
- Donna Aker