GCPS Board Meeting Summary for December 14, 2006

The following are highlights of the December 14, 2006, 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 Board of Education honored two school counselors who received statewide honors from the Georgia School Counselors Association. Kelly Cowart of Meadowcreek ES and Brent Henderson of Norcross HS were named Georgia Elementary Counselor of the Year and Georgia Secondary Counselor of the Year, respectively. Both counselors will now be considered for national awards. These two professionals are examples of the outstanding counselors who have earned recognition for Gwinnett's advisement/counseling program as a leader in the state and nation. Over the years, the system's counselors have earned 52 state and 28 national honors.
-- Board members recognized the academic achievement of three students who earned perfect scores on the ACT, a college-admissions test. Those honored were Long Chen, a senior at Norcross HS; Cullen Graham, a junior at Parkview HS; and Calley Mersmann, a senior at South Gwinnett HS. The ACT consists of tests in English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. Each test is scored on a scale of 1-36, and a student's composite score is the average of the four test scores. A 36 is the highest possible composite score that can be earned on the ACT Assessment.
-- In addition, the School Board applauded four students who garnered perfect scores on the SAT, also a college-admission test. Honored students included Clara Yang, a senior at Brookwood HS; Steven Lau, a senior at Duluth HS; Elinor Willis, a senior at Meadowcreek HS; and Maylene Xie, a junior at Parkview HS. The SAT consists of tests in Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. Each test has a maximum score of 800 for a perfect score of 2400.
-- School Board members honored the Collins Hill HS Girls Cross Country Team on its state championship season. This is the fourth consecutive year that the Collins Hill HS team has won the state championship. Coaches of this award-winning team are Andrew Hudson and Richard Ramsey, joined by community coach Bob Drouin. In introducing the team, Coach Hudson expressed his appreciation for the team, its supporters, and the administration of Collins Hill.
-- Another state championship team earning kudos from the Board of Education was the Parkview HS Boys Cross Country Team. This is the third consecutive year that the Parkview team has won the state championship. Coach James Tigue, a Parkview graduate himself, is impressed with the standard of excellence that has been and continues to be a tradition at the school. He thanked his team for their hard work and dedication. He also spoke of the school system's support of the sport, noting that nine of the last 10 state championships in boys cross country have been won by Gwinnett teams.

Board approves core beliefs and commitments
The Gwinnett County Board of Education has developed and approved a statement of core beliefs and commitments about teaching and learning as part of its work with Reform Governance in Action (RGA). Through the Center for Reform of School Systems, RGA trains and supports the nation's most promising and reform-minded school boards and superintendents. Gwinnett was one of four districts selected to participate in this prestigious program this year. Over the course of the two-year training, teams of district leaders together determine how to best restructure their own district policies and practices, such as management oversight, progress monitoring, and board meetings, in efficient and effective ways that will improve student achievement. While new, the adopted core beliefs and commitments are not unfamiliar, in that they further solidify the system's focus and strategic direction.
Core Beliefs of the Gwinnett County Board of Education
- Our core business is teaching and learning.
- All children can learn at or above grade level.
- All children should reach their learning potential.
- The school effect is important and has a profound impact on every child's life.
- A quality instructional program requires a rigorous curriculum, effective teaching, and ongoing assessment.
- All children should be taught in a safe and secure learning environment.
Commitments of the Gwinnett County Board of Education
- Gwinnett County Public Schools will give its core business, teaching and learning, priority over all other functions of the organization.
- All GCPS students will learn at or above grade level.
- All GCPS students will reach their learning potential.
- The school effect is important and Gwinnett County Public Schools will have a positive impact on every child's life.
- GCPS will have a quality instructional program that includes a rigorous curriculum, effective teaching, and ongoing assessment.
- All GCPS students will be taught in a safe and secure learning environment.

3rd annual Principal for a Day event proves to be huge success
Gwinnett County business and education leaders teamed up in November during the “Principal for a Day” program, co-sponsored by GCPS and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. Throughout American Education Week, celebrated Nov. 13-17, more than 50 business leaders worked alongside Gwinnett school principals for a day. Berney Kirkland, chief of staff, briefed School Board members on the successful event, sharing examples of the enthusiastic comments received from business and principal participants. She expressed the system's goal of growing the program and ultimately having every school participate in the event.

Board updated on state and federal legislative issues and work of Georgia Education Coalition
CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks updated Board members on the progress of the Georgia Education Coalition. The coalition was established to allow its nine member systems to address the critical fiscal and policy issues that are common concerns to all members. The intent of the GEC is to serve as a vehicle for discussion of issues of mutual concern and for communicating about those issues with elected state leaders in a unified voice. Those common issues include full funding of the QBE funding formula, a stop to austerity cuts, a waiting period of at least 12 months before implementing new education legislation, the delay of class-size reductions for high schools, and an increase of Maintenance and Operations (M&O) funding. All of the consensus items have been embedded in each district's legislative priorities and are a part of discussions local system leaders are having with their area legislators. In addition, Mr. Wilbanks reviewed key federal policy issues that will have an impact on the school system, including the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind in 2007 and the continuation of the e-rate program.

Dr. Robert McClure honored as outgoing School Board chair
CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks and the members of the School Board expressed appreciation for Dr. Robert McClure, District IV Board representative, and his leadership as the 2006 chair of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. Mr. Wilbanks commended Dr. McClure on his leadership and the role he played in several strategic decisions that have benefitted the school system and the students it serves. To honor his leadership, the school system presented the inaugural class of the Quality-Plus Leader Academy with three books in Dr. McClure's honor.

Citizens addressing the Board
-- Ed Sale