GCPS Board Meeting Summary for March 8, 2007

The following are highlights of the March 8, 2007, 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.

Board recognizes students and staff members
-- The Gwinnett County Board of Education honored a team from Parkview HS on its state win in the Fall 2006 Stock Market Game, sponsored by the Georgia Council on Economic Education. Team members include Leslie Fowler, Titus Fuller, and Adrenis Hicks. Approximately 3,900 teams participated in the Fall game. Mark Leviton, social studies teacher, was the team coach. In introducing Mr. Leviton and his state championship team, Principal Charles "Buck" Buchanan noted that Parkview has won back-to-back championships, and is well on its way to winning the spring game.
-- R. D. Head ES was honored on its recent recognition as a Georgia School of Excellence (SOE), one of 25 schools in the state recognized this year. The school was selected for showing the greatest gains for student achievement in reading and math over three years. The honor reflects Head students’ performance on the state’s Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) administered each spring.The SOE program recognizes schools that show significant improvement as well as those with performance in the top 10% of schools. In each congressional district, one winner is selected in each of the two categories from among qualifying schools. While the data-driven selection model has test scores as its foundation, it also looks at No Child Left Behind status, staff qualifications, and safety records. Schools must have at least five years in operation and can only be named a SOE once every five years. Principal Michelle Farmer accepted the Board's recognition, sharing the honor with Assistant Principal Suzanne Pierce and members of Head's school improvement team. In expressing her community's pride in this most recent accomplishment, Mrs. Farmer briefed Board members on the reading comprehension strategies and math skills they have focused on in order to help all students reach their potential.
-- Board members applauded the efforts of 14 schools recognized at the state level as Title I Distinguished Schools. This program recognizes Title I schools that have made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for three or more consecutive years. Schools that made AYP for three consecutive years are provided a certificate of recognition. Schools that made AYP for four or more consecutive years are provided a certificate of recognition and a financial award based on the poverty level of the school, the number of consecutive years of making AYP, and the amount of available funds. The awards received by Distinguished Schools are used for educational purposes such as schoolwide projects or the purchase of instructional resources and supplies. The Distinguished School Awards are paid for by federal Title I funds, allocated under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Schools Recognized as Title I Distinguished Schools
Five Years of Making AYP-- Annistown ES, G.H. Hopkins ES, and Kanoheda ES
Four Years of Making AYP-- Bethesda ES, Cedar Hill ES, Lilburn ES, Nesbit ES, Norcross ES, and Peachtree ES
Three Years of Making AYP-- J.A. Alford ES, Corley ES, Meadowcreek ES, Rebecca Minor ES, and Rockbridge ES

Naming process begins for schools opening in 2008 and 2009
The school system has begun its process for naming the new schools due to open in August 2008 and 2009. These schools include:
Opening in 2008:
-- New Grayson Cluster Elementary School, 841 Cooper Rd in Grayson (school naming committee comprised of Grayson ES and W.J. Cooper ES community members)
-- New Mill Creek Cluster Elementary School, 2442 S. Pucketts Mill Rd.in Dacula (school naming committee comprised of Duncan Creek ES and Fort Daniel ES community members)
-- New South Gwinnett Cluster Elementary School, 4151 Rosebud Rd. in Loganville (school naming committee comprised of R.L. Norton ES and J.C. Magill ES community members)
Opening in 2009:
-- New Grayson Cluster Elementary School, 1725 Grayson Hwy. in Grayson (school naming committee comprised of Grayson ES and Pharr ES community members)
-- New Lanier Cluster Elementary School, 6442 Suwanee Dam Rd. in Buford (school naming committee comprised of Sycamore ES community members)
-- New Mill Creek/Collins Hill/Dacula Relief Cluster Elementary School, 2020 Buford Dr. in Lawrenceville (school naming committee comprised of Freeman's Mill ES community members)
-- New Grayson Cluster Middle School, 1777 Grayson Hwy. in Grayson (school naming committee comprised of J.P. McConnell MS community members)
-- New Grayson Cluster Middle School, 821 Cooper Rd. in Grayson (school naming committee comprised of J.P. McConnell MS community members)
-- New Mill Creek/Collins Hill/Dacula Relief Cluster Middle School, 2240 Braselton Hwy. in Buford (school naming committee comprised of Osborne MS community members)
-- New North Gwinnett Cluster Middle School, 160 Peachtree Industrial Blvd. in Sugar Hill (school naming committee comprised of Lanier MS community members)
-- New Grayson/Dacula Relief Cluster High School, 2255 New Hope Rd. in Lawrenceville (school naming committee comprised of Grayson HS and Dacula HS community members)
-- New Mill Creek/Collins Hill/Dacula Relief Cluster High School, 2351 Sunny Hill Rd. in Lawrenceville (school naming committee comprised of Mill Creek HS community members)

To give these schools an identity, school naming committees have been formed within the cluster where the new school will be built. All committees include one school staff member and one parent and/or community member from each school listed above. These committees are charged with the task of developing a list of recommended names to submit to the superintendent. These committees have already begun their work, using available research and following the school system's policy for naming new facilities. In making their recommendations, the committees give consideration to:
  • Individuals who have made a significant social contribution (If an individual name is proposed, only the last name will symbolize the official name.)
  • Names of communities served by the school
  • Roads
  • Landmarks
  • Geographical locations in the proximity of the school
Individuals and organizations of Gwinnett County may submit names. Information on submitting names is available on the system web site and at the local elementary schools within the clusters where the new schools will be built. The deadline to submit public input on potential names for the new schools is March 26, 2007. The Board is expected to vote on the Superintendent's recommendations for the new school names at its April meeting.

Board hears report on adding rigor to the middle school
Representatives from a cross-functional action team that has studied adding rigor to middle school to increase student success in high school made a report to the Board of Education. Tricia Kennedy, team facilitator and executive director of Curriculum and Instruction; Dr. Patty Heitmuller, principal of Louise Radloff MS; and Emily Keag, teacher at Alton C. Crews MS, shared the team's research along with the team's recommendations, which are as follows:
- Implement quality, common benchmark assessments in the core curriculum areas at all middle schools, with equal access to a teacher analysis tool and adequate professional development on use of assessment results to impact instruction.
- Provide academic support and instructional scaffolding within the middle school day that will give all students the opportunity to pursue a college preparatory or more advanced (IB, AP, etc.) program of study at high school (i.e. academic support classes, additional time-on-task, tutoring, honors classes, foreign language, Springboard, Middle Years IB).
- Maximize the school and team schedule to give priority to teacher collaboration for analysis of student achievement data, developing instructional plans to address specific student needs, and sharing use of Quality-Plus Teaching Strategies.
- Increase effective differentiation of instruction based on the range of students' needs to master the grade-level AKS.
- Establish vertical teaming among grade levels and school levels for teachers to share expectations for students, best practices in instruction and assessment, and ways to support students' preparation and transition for the next level.
- Emphasize content/informational reading and writing across the curriculum.
CEO/Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks will take these recommendations into consideration as the system develops its budget for the coming year.

Board approves resolution selling SPLOST bonds
The Board approved the final bond resolution approving the pricing and issuance of the SPLOST bonds authorized by the voters in November 2006. The sale of the $425 million in bonds is being used to advance fund SPLOST school construction. During the Board's afternoon workshop, CEO/Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks informed the Board that Moody's Investment Services has reaffirmed the school system's Aaa rating on its bonds. Gwinnett was the first school system in Georgia to earn such a distinction, and remains the only large school system in the nation to have a Aaa rating. As a result of the system's extremely favorable rating, the school system's bonds are attractive to investors and GCPS is able to borrow money at the lowest possible interest rates.

Georgia School Board Appreciation Week
The Georgia School Boards Association has asked Governor Sonny Perdue to proclaim March 12-16, 2007, as School Board Appreciation Week in Georgia. CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks recognized the members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education for their service on behalf of the students, employees, and citizen stakeholders of Gwinnett County Public Schools in conjunction with School Board Appreciation Week in Georgia.

Board members selected to represent Board of Education at state and national meetings
The School District of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, will host a symposium to bring leaders from across the nation to discuss solutions to the dropout/graduation rate issue. The symposium will be held May 14-16, 2007. Board Chairman Louise Radloff was invited to be among the 250 participants, which represent leaders from federal and state departments, colleges and universities, selected school districts with a history of innovation, and major funding entities. In addition, Board members authorized Mrs. Radloff to serve on the Georgia School Boards Association's Governmental Operations Committee. In related action, it was agreed that Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, representative of District III, will represent the Board at the Georgia School Boards Association's 2007 Summer Conference and Delegate Assembly on June 22-23, 2007, in Savannah, Georgia.

Board tables proposed policies for input
Staff is recommending that the following proposed new policies be approved, having been tabled for review since the February 8, 2007, School Board meeting:
Policy BBABG- Business Systems Oversight-- This new policy specifies the Board's governance role in overseeing the Superintendent's management and performance of the school district's major business and operational systems.
Policy KC- Constituent Services-- This new policy outlines a process for ensuring that constituent requests to Board members for information or assistance are addressed in a timely and appropriate manner.
Policy BCAG- Board Workshops-- This new policy reflects the Board's commitment to holding each year periodic workshops on topics of educational or operational significance for the purpose of receiving in-depth information from the Superintendent and staff.
Policy BCAB-- School Board Meetings-- Changes to this policy align it with improvements in system processes.
Policy BCBI-- Public Participation in Board Meetings-- Changes to this policy align it with improvements in system processes.
Staff is recommending that the following proposed new policy remain on the table for further input:
Policy BAA- Board's Theory of Action for Student Achievement-- This proposed new policy articulates its theory of action for improving student achievement and effectuating its core beliefs and commitments about teaching and learning.

Citizens addressing the Board
-- Debra Meadows
-- Jamal Warrayat
-- Mena Wilson
-- Yatin Patel
-- Steven Bouye
-- Willie Jones