GCPS Board Meeting Summary for November 12, 2009

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

Board honors award-winning students and staff
  • The Board saluted the North Gwinnett HS Air Force Junior ROTC unit on receiving a 2008-2009 Air Force JROTC Distinguished Unit Award with Merit. This award honors Air Force JROTC units that perform above and beyond normal expectations, and have distinguished themselves through outstanding service to their school and community, while meeting the AFJROTC mission of producing better citizens for America. North Gwinnett HS is one of 96 units nationwide to receive this award. The objectives of the Air Force JROTC program are to educate and train high school cadets in citizenship and life skills; promote community service; instill responsibility, character, and self-discipline through character education; and provide instruction in air and space fundamentals. Accompanying the North Gwinnett HS Air Force JROTC officers were Principal Ed Shaddix; Major Bruce Bonds, senior aerospace science instructor; and Chief Master Sergeant Michael Shannon, aerospace science instructor.
  • Board members congratulated Joe Cox of Brookwood HS on his recent selection by The Siemens Foundation and The College Board as a 2009 Siemens Foundation Advanced Placement Teacher of the Year. Mr. Cox was one of 50 teachers selected nationally to receive an award of $1,000. The award recognizes Mr. Cox for his dedication to students, exemplary teaching, and work with the Advanced Placement Program. Established in 1998, the Siemens Foundation Awards for Advanced Placement exemplifies the strong partnership between The Siemens Foundation and The College Board to expand and strengthen the pool of math, science, and technology talent that is needed for continued growth of business and industry in the United States and globally. The Siemens Foundation also honors high school students and high schools with this awards program. Mr. Cox was recognized earlier this fall as a finalist for Gwinnett County Teacher of the Year.
  • Collins Hill HS Boys Soccer Team was heralded for its AAAAA state championship season in spring 2009.This is the first state championship title for the team. The team's head coach was Stan Carpenter. Coach Carpenter, currently coaching at Mountain View HS, introduced his former team, saying it was an honor to coach such fine young men. He said, "They represent the game of soccer to the highest level in the state." Their prowess on the field earned them recognition in several national polls.
  • The Board honored several GCPS employees who recently earned recognition from the Georgia School Counselors Association (GSCA).
- Maria Grovner of Creekland MS is the 2009 Georgia Middle School Counselor of the Year.
- Dr. Yuehong “Maria” Chen Foley of Cedar Hill ES earned the association's 2009 Georgia Writer of the Year title.
- Dr. Richard Holland, Jones MS Principal, was recognized as the state's Counseling Advocate of the Year this year.
All of the Gwinnett honorees won local and regional honors to be eligible for the state competition. GSCA will recognize the Gwinnett educators at its annual conference on November 23. Gwinnett school counselors remove the barriers to student achievement by providing preventive and responsive services through classroom guidance, small group, and individual counseling. High-quality counseling programs, with strong administrative support, are delivered at all levels in Gwinnett County schools.
  • Gwinnett County Public Schools takes pride in its involvement in Gwinnett County's successful Relay for Life event. Among the 108 school system teams participating in the Relay in May 2009, a total of 37 school teams and two central office teams each raised $10,000 or more. Board members recognized the following teams on this accomplishment: Alford ES, Brookwood HS, Central Gwinnett HS, Chattahoochee ES, Cooper ES, Craig ES, Creekland MS, Crews MS, Dacula HS, Duncan Creek ES, Grayson ES, Grayson HS, Harbins ES, Head ES, Hull MS, Jackson ES, Jones MS, Lanier MS, Mason ES, Maxwell HS of Technology, McConnell MS, Mill Creek HS, Norcross HS, North Gwinnett HS, Parkview HS, Peachtree Ridge HS, Pharr ES, Puckett's Mill ES, Riverside ES, Rock Springs ES, Shiloh MS, Simpson ES, Sugar Hill ES, Sycamore ES, Taylor ES, Trickum MS, Winn Holt ES; and Central Office teams, Information Management Division CDs and the Transportation Department team. Six teams were recognized for raising over $30,000 (Mill Creek HS-$33,696.31; Lanier MS- $34,089.12; GCPS Transportation- $35,511.29; North Gwinnett HS- $36,936.92; McConnell MS- $47,226.25; and Norcross HS- $57,461.93). Accompanying the Relay for Life teams were Randy Redner, Executive Area Director, American Cancer Society; Steve North, 2010 Co-Chair of American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Gwinnett, and Director of Support Services for Gwinnett County government; and Kirsten Baker, North Gwinnett HS assistant principal and steering committee representative. In 2009, GCPS teams raised $1,068,953.91 for the American Cancer Society, almost half of the total raised by the Gwinnett Relay for Life event-- $2.1 million. Gwinnett's Relay is the largest in the world.

Board reviews revisions to 2009-10 school calendar
Gwinnett schools were not in session on Sept. 21 and 22 due to the floods that struck the Atlanta area. These "flood days" will be made up using the first two designated make-up days: Feb. 12 and March 15. Students and staff now will be in school on these two days. Traditionally, the district designates at least three days for days missed to wintry weather. With two days designated as flood make-up days, that left the district with only one remaining scheduled make-up day in the calendar, May 27. As winter has not even begun and there is the chance that inclement weather may force additional school closings, Gwinnett County Public Schools has amended its 2009-10 school calendar to include two more snow make-up days. These days will be Monday, Feb. 15, and Friday, April 2. Both of these days were originally scheduled as student/staff holidays. Feb. 15 will now be designated snow make-up day #1 and April 2 will be snow make-up day #2. May 27 will remain as snow make-up day #3. If the district does not need to use these days as make-up days, they will be holidays for students and school staff. Making the adjustment to the school calendar at this point will allow parents, staff members, and community members to plan ahead for additional missed days and how those days would be made up.

District approves legislative priorities for 2010
Each year, the Gwinnett County Board of Education communicates with the Gwinnett Delegation to the General Assembly those issues of critical importance to the funding and effective operation of Gwinnett County Public Schools. The 2010 Legislative Program summarizes the continuing positions and state funding improvement requests that the Board wishes to bring to the delegation for consideration in the upcoming session of the General Assembly. The Board adopted its 2010 Legislative Program, which was presented in draft form at last month's meeting.

Board authorizes investment providers and plan administrator for 403(b)/457(b) Voluntary Retirement Plan
Effective 2009, the Internal Revenue Service issued new regulations regarding plan sponsors (employers) under section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code. These regulations greatly increased the plan sponsor’s compliance requirements and plan administration responsibilities. This being the case, GCPS initiated a comprehensive RFP (request for proposals) process for plan investment provider(s) and plan administrator in June 2009. The process was facilitated by Iron Capital Advisors and the following recommendation reflects the final evaluation and result of that process. The Board of Education has authorized VALIC and Lincoln Financial Group as the investment providers for the plan, effective July 1, 2010, and also designated VALIC as the sole recordkeeper and plan administrator. The plan revisions are estimated to bring about annual savings of approximately $3.75 million to Plan participants. These savings, along with an increase in options for employees, may provide incentive for more employees to take advantage of the available programs.

School Board authorizes participation in five county-approved Tax Allocation Districts
The members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education adopted resolutions authorizing the school district's participation in five county-approved Tax Allocation Districts (TADs). These TADs are located within the redevelopment areas of the three Community Improvement Districts (CIDs)-- Gwinnett Village, Gwinnett Place, and Evermore. The Board of Education unanimously voted to join the County in this redevelopment effort. The school system estimates it would acquire $25 million in additional annual property tax revenue at the end of the life of the TADs (25 years), providing the system an opportunity to quickly recoup the contributions made over the life of the TADs. In addition, a potential benefit could be increased SPLOST revenue.

School Board continues its policy work
As part of its ongoing policy work, the School Board tabled the following policy change to allow for public input prior to next month's meeting:
Policy DID- Internal Audits-- The title of this policy has been changed from “Audits.” Changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.

Citizens Addressing the Board
Nicole Marshall
Darcele Horton
Stephanie Bowen
Alicia Balmer