GCPS Board Meeting Summary for May 14, 2009

The following are highlights of the May 14, 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.

Students, staff, and community members earn Board recognition
-- The Board saluted Dr. Dale Carter, director of Psychological Services, on his recognition by the Georgia Association of School Psychologists as a "Lifetime Achievement Award" winner. The "Lifetime Achievement Award" is designed to identify and recognize an outstanding school psychologist who has dedicated his or her professional life to the development and betterment of school psychology in Georgia. Dr. Carter is retiring this year, closing out a 30-plus year career in education that included 26 years with Gwinnett County Public Schools.
-- GCPS' Department of Psychological Services was recognized by the Georgia Association of School Psychologists with its Innovative Practice Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize a person, group, or district that exhibits innovative practices in the field of school psychology. Earlier this school year, the department was recognized by the National Association of School Psychologists for its commitment to the highest standards of professional growth and development for school psychologists. The professional development program implemented by GCPS' Psychological Services is the first and currently the only local district program in the nation to receive this endorsement. The Georgia Association of School Psychologists provided GCPS with this additional recognition for attaining this distinction.
-- Board members recognized Dr. Debbie Daniell, director of social studies, and the district's overall social studies program for its recognition by the Georgia Council on Economic Education (GCEE) as a "Program of Excellence." Gwinnett was singled out for this distinction based on its comprehensive K-12 systemwide implementation of economic education. The award recognizes the dedication of the teachers and the leadership that Dr. Daniell has provided to the program. For more than 30 years, GCEE has worked to bring economic education into Georgia’s classrooms.
-- Two teachers from the Parkview Cluster earned Board recognition as winners in the Teacher Division of the 2008 Fall and 2009 Georgia Stock Market Game, sponsored by the Georgia Council on Economic Education. Tim Watkins, an economics teacher at Parkview HS, and Sarah Swingle, a Camp Creek ES teacher, took top honors in the state competition among teachers. With strong support for businesses, foundations, and individuals, GCEE provides K-12 curriculum materials and specialized programs like the Stock Market Game to Georgia students.
-- With an award-winning teacher, it is no surprise that a Parkview HS team won the Spring 2009 Georgia Stock Market Game. This spring, the Parkview team was given a hypothetical $100,000 in common stocks listed on the major exchanges. After 10 weeks, the students turned their investment into $389,132 to defeat more than 4,000 other teams statewide. Parkview HS team members include Alex Han, Melissa Kelly, and Taylor Patterson. The team was sponsored by Tim Watkins.
-- Parkview's prowess in economics extended to the National Economic Challenge in which a team from the school took top honors in the state. The National Economic Challenge applies the excitement of an athletic competition to academic excellence. In each competition, teams of students answer rigorous questions on microeconomics, macroeconomics, and international economics. The most exciting round is the final round, conducted in an oral quiz-bowl format. Only the top two teams from the first three rounds compete in the final round. Parkview HS defeated Campbell HS on the final question of the quiz bowl to win the state championship. Parkview HS team members include Clair Hou, Kyle Post, Prananv Ramesh, and Yayu Zhong. The team is sponsored by Gary Petmecky.
-- The School Board recognized students from nine Gwinnett schools on their performance in the Continental Math League. Continental Math League is a high-level, problem-solving competition that allows students to compete against other students on the same grade level from schools all over the United States. The competition is made up of five tests given during the school day at various times throughout the year. Each test is 30 minutes and has six questions. All students can participate. The top six scores from each school for each test are sent to the Continental Math League Office in New York. Click here for a list of student winners and the schools they represent.
-- Members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education extended congratulations to Karen Griffith of Berkeley Lake ES and Margaret Cheeley of Collins Hill HS on their selection as top-10 finalists in the American School Counselors Association (ASCA) 2009 National Counselor of the Year Competition. They earned Top-10 honors from a competitive pool of more than 300 applicants nationwide. Applicants had to complete five written essays and submit a DVD for consideration. As finalists, they were flown to Washington, D.C., in January, where they shared their insights about the counseling profession with members of Georgia's congressional delegation--U.S. Representative John Linder and U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isackson. As finalists, Ms. Griffith and Ms. Cheeley may be called upon to represent ASCA and the school counseling profession in interviews throughout the year. Accompanying the two finalists were their principals, Glenn McFall of Collins Hill HS and Dr. F.A. McLeod of Berkeley Lake ES.
-- Kudos to a team of students from Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology for their win at the 2009 Georgia WorldQuest competition. In the competition, the students answered 100 multiple-choice questions on topics that included current events, countries, international law, U.N. peacekeeping organizations, worldwide elections, Great Decisions articles, and people in the news. After winning the state competition, the students traveled to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national competition April 4-6. GSMST ranked in the top 10 out of 46 schools in the national competition. Team members include Nikhil Lakhanapi, Jacob Mauceri, Daniel Park, and Marcus Raimondi. The team is sponsored by Suzanne Hammontree.
-- The School Board expressed its appreciation to the team chaplains who serve GCPS athletic teams. These dedicated individuals contribute countless hours to supporting and providing positive motivation and support for Gwinnett student-athletes. Team chaplains honored included Jonas Chambliss, Berkmar HS; Randy Rainwater and Matt Williams, Brookwood HS; Frank Cox, Collins Hill HS; Dustin Wilbanks, Dacula HS; Jay Stewart, Grayson HS; Eric Bailey and Josh Edds, Mill Creek HS; Chris Ladsen, Norcross HS; Richard King, Parkview HS; Shawn Lee, Shiloh HS; and John Baker, South Gwinnett HS.
-- The Gwinnett County Board of Education congratulated the district's first adapted sports team, the GCPS Heat, on its finish as state runner-up in the junior varsity division for both basketball and football. Mike Emery, director of Athletics, Student Activities, and Community Schools, shared highlights of the seasons and expressed his pride in the students who accomplished so much in their first year of competition.
-- Board members commended Collins Hill HS' Wrestling Team on its second consecutive state championship season in AAAAA wrestling. The Collins Hill HS team took both the Dual and Traditional titles. The school's team has finished in the top three for the state title every year since 2000. Overall, Collins Hill HS' wrestling program has won seven state titles during the school's 15-year history. Coach Cliff Ramos accompanied his team, which includes 12 wrestlers who placed at the state level.
-- The School Board recognized Gwinnett winners in the 2009 Georgia Science Olympiad. Science Olympiad is a competition in which a team of 15 students competes in 23 events covering the major branches of science and engineering. Many of these events require students to complete a college-level laboratory analysis while using the same techniques as practicing professionals. Other events require devices to be built prior to the competition to exacting specifications. All events require students to work as a team in order to successfully complete the challenging tasks. A team from Brookwood HS placed first in the competition and a Parkview HS team finished second. For a complete listing of first and second place winners, including students who won in individual events, click here.
-- Gwinnett students excelled at the 2009 Georgia Junior Science & Engineering Fair, with Cory Bhowmik of Trickum MS earning recognition as the Grand Award Winner. The Georgia Junior Science & Engineering Fair is an annual competition featuring the research of middle school students in the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering. Students qualify for the state competition by placing first at the Regional Science & Engineering Fair earlier in the year. The Board of Education recognized Cory and all first- and second-place winners from Gwinnett, which included Cory Bhowmik, first place in Engineering; Sam Gauspohl of Trickum MS, first place in Aeronautical Science; Erika Ikizake of Shiloh MS, first place in Medicine and Health; Arturo Diaz of J.P. McConnell MS, first place in Mathematics; Alex Marihew of Trickum MS, second place in Chemistry; Alex George of J.P. McConnell MS, second place in Engineering; and Bayian Yahya of J.P. McConnell MS, second place in Engineering.
-- Gwinnett students also did well in the Senior Division of the 2009 Georgia Science and Engineering Fair, with five students finishing in first place and 10 in second place. The Georgia Senior Science & Engineering Fair is an annual competition featuring the research of high school students in the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering. Students qualify for the state competition by placing first at the Regional Science & Engineering Fair earlier in the year. Click here for a list of Gwinnett winners recognized at the May meeting.
-- A team from Parkview HS won the 2009 State Science Bowl Competition. Team members include Murat Johnson, Timmy Philip, Dipesh Patel, Deep Datta Roy, and Josh Wong. The U.S. Department of Energy created the National Science Bowl in 1991 to encourage high school students to excel in math and science and to pursue careers in these fields. The Science Bowl is a tournament-style academic competition designed to challenge and recognize students' knowledge in science and mathematics. Students answer questions in the categories of astronomy, biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, earth science, and general science, in both round robin and double-elimination formats.
-- Debbie Grant, Family and Consumer Science Instructor at Meadowcreek HS, was honored by the Board on her recognition by the Hospitality Education Foundation of Georgia as the 2009 ProStart Educator of the Year. Each year, the Hospitality Education Foundation of Georgia selects an instructor who has successfully implemented the ProStart curriculum and competed in the ProStart Invitational Culinary Contest. Ms. Grant has led the Culinary Team at Meadowcreek HS to two State Championships and her students represented Georgia at the National Competition again this year.
-- Board members saluted a team of Meadowcreek HS students on their first-place finish in the 2009 Georgia ProStart Culinary Arts competition. Team members include Marisol Leal, Davian Brown, Linh Nguyen, and Chrysta Cribb. The Hospitality Education Foundation of Georgia sponsors the ProStart Culinary and Management Competition each year. Students put their skills to the ultimate test in this competition as they showcase culinary and management skills. In this demanding culinary event, school teams competed for the opportunity to represent Georgia at the National Competition in San Diego in April.
-- Six Gwinnett students took top honors and nine finished second in events in the state Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) competition. FBLA is the largest student business organization in the world, with more than 250,000 members. Georgia is the largest FBLA chapter in the nation, with more than 17,500 members. FBLA is an important partner in business education and student leadership development and is recognized by the U. S. Departments of Education and Labor as an integral part of a co-curricular approach to business and leadership education. Its mission is to bring business and education together in a positive working relationship through innovative leadership and career development programs. Click here for a complete list of FBLA state award recipients from Gwinnett.
-- Congratulations to Grayson HS' VEX Robotics Elevation Team-- comprised of students Alex Stern, Austin Finck, Jessie Lee, and Tony Gomez-- on their State Championship performance. The VEX Robotics Design System offers students an exciting platform for learning about areas rich with career opportunities, spanning science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). These are just a few of the many fields students can explore by creating with VEX Robotics technology. Beyond science and engineering principles, a VEX Robotics project encourages teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving among groups.
-- Board members also congratulated two teams from Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology on winning the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge championship. The FIRST Tech Challenge is an intermediate robotics competition that focuses on providing an affordable and accessible opportunity to participate in a robotics event and creates a bridge between the FIRST Lego League and the FIRST Robotics Competition. Students work together in teams to use a modular robotics platform to design and build robots to compete in FIRST-designed games. Students learned to use various motors, gears, wheels, tank treads, motor controllers, microcomputers, transmitters, receivers, and computer programming, in order to make the robot complete various tasks to win the event. GSMST students on the two winning teams were Elliot Chung, Robin Ji, Rickey Lunce, Louise Cosme, James Sato, Josh Holley, John Raghu, Zain Lokhandwala, Tyler Allen, Nathan Matson, Ryo Osawa, Sagar Patel, Daniel Busby, Cameron Fisk, Vraj Chhabhya, Heesu Kim, Bonnie Seo, Tae Kong, Luke Richerson, Tanzim Milkey, Iva Zivojnovic, Aidan Jones, Daniel Guzman, Jacob Ladd, and Clay Obon.
-- Kudos to the North Gwinnett HS robotics team on its recent win at the FIRST Robotics Regional Competition. The team competed in the Palmetto Regional Competition in South Carolina on March 26-28, 2009. They were awarded the General Motors Industrial Design Award and were named the top team at the Palmetto meet, qualifying to compete at the National Competition at the Georgia Dome on April 17 and 18. Corporate sponsors of this team include GlobalAgendaGame.com, Meggitt Training Systems, US/SWIFT Atlanta/CAB Incorporated, and Cisco Systems. Team members include Amy Malacarne, Austin Shenk, Caitlin Hanrahan, Catherine Wong, Christopher Wilson, Danielle Garcia, Dorian Henao, Hannah Greenberg, Jeffrey Angell, Joey Hoover, Josh Pratt, Kathleen Wilson, Kelly Cadle, Luke Stubbs, Matthew Brown, Michael Lowry, Michael Spencer, Michael Tamburo, Monica Enlow, Nick Cesar, Pratik Deshpand, Shani Letoha, Zach Coley, and Zohaib Maya. Instructors Mike Reilly, Terry Hackett, and Hannah Eisla were congratulated on their students' achievements.
-- School Board members recognized 15 Gwinnett students who placed first or second in the SkillsUSA competition. SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives, working together to ensure America has a skilled work force. SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers, high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations. For a complete list of SkillsUSA winners, click here.

Board adopts FY2010 Budget and tentatively sets millage rate
The Gwinnett County Board of Education adopted its Fiscal Year 2010 budget as recommended by CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. The total budget is approximately $2.0 billion, representing an increase of 5.4% from the current FY2009 total budget. The proposed budget for the general operations of the school district is reflected in the General Fund at $1.3 billion, a decrease of 1.1% over the current year. The adopted budget represents an investment plan for GCPS, its students, employees, and the community as a whole. In adopting its budget, the School Board is not calling for an increase in the millage rate-- currently 19.25 mills for maintenance and operations and 1.30 mills for debt service, for a total of 20.55 mills. When approved in June, the millage rate will have remained unchanged for the fifth consecutive year.

Board approves plan for technical education
The Board approved the district's Local Plan for Improving Career and Technical Education and One-Year Funding Application for FY2010. This is an annual compliance document for budgetary information, assurances of compliance, and utilization of Federal funds as allocated by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.

School councils focus on school improvement and communication
Area Superintendent Jean Walker briefed the Board on the role school councils are playing in Gwinnett schools. School councils were formed as a part of the A+ Reform Act of 2000 which called for school councils in every school to improve communication and increase participation of parents and community members. Over the years, the membership of school councils have been adjusted by the state. They currently are comprised of parents, community/business members, teachers, and the school principal. In terms of student learning, school councils may offer advice and make recommendations regarding the curriculum, proposed interventions, and local school plans for improvement. School council members also work to increase communication between the school and home, publicizing school achievements and providing involvement opportunities for parents and the community. In her presentation, Mrs. Walker saluted Gwinnett's school councils, local PTA units, and parent volunteers for the critical role they play in the success of Gwinnett schools.

Board denies request for Aya Academy of Excellence charter school
In accordance with a recommendation from staff, School Board members voted to deny the start-up charter school petition submitted by Aya Academy of Excellence. According to its petition, the mission of the school, which would serve 8th grade students, is to "strive toward self-reliance, endurance, resourcefulness, motivation, and excellence within a stimulating academic environment." The school system's charter review committee recommended that this charter petition be denied based on the following significant deficiencies:
- The petition did not clearly set forth a rationale and reason for the need for the school based on documented community and parent input.
- A stand-alone, one-grade school at the middle school level is not supported by educational research as a reform initiative for increasing student achievement, and in fact may hinder students in preparing for high school.
- Based on the cash-flow projections and other financial information provided, the school does not have the financial means to operate as outlined in the petition.
- Performance-based objectives and measurable goals for academic achievement are not clearly defined in terms of annual performance, and those that are detailed do not meet AYP AMAO minimums or statewide accountability measure requirements.

School Board continues its policy work
As part of its ongoing policy work, the School Board approved the following policy changes which were tabled at last month's meeting:
Policy DIF- Fraud-- This proposed new policy has been created in order to more fully comply with generally accepted internal auditing standards as well as with mandates in federal regulations.
Policy GBRIA- Judicial, Military Duty, and Religious Leave-- Changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.
Policy JGC- Student Health Services-- Minor changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.
Policy IHFB- Graduation Requirements- Students Entering 9th Grade in 2008-09 and Subsequent Years-- Minor changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.
Policy JBCB- Acceptance of Transfer Credits-- Minor changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.

The School Board set aside its normal policy-revision protocol of placing proposed policy revisions on the table for a month in order to approve the following revised policy:
Policy JCD- Student Conduct Behavior Code-- Changes have been made to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes and with mandates in state and/or federal law. The timeline for approval needed to be adjusted to allow for inclusion of the revised policy in next year's handbooks.

Citizens addressing the Board
-- Maria Thurmond