GCPS Board Meeting Summary for April 19, 2012

The following are highlights of the April 19, 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, teachers, and schools
- Board members saluted Mr. B.E. "Woody" Woodruff, a former GCPS parent and very active community member as the inaugural recipient of the GCPS Public Service Award. This award recognizes individuals who have been involved not just at the local school level, but who also have extended their involvement throughout the school system. In introducing Mr. Woodruff, CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks shared that "Mr. Woodruff has been someone the school system could call on... no job has been too little or too big." Mr. Woodruff has served as the chair of the Superintendent's Council of Community Advisors since its inception in 1997. He also has served as a volunteer on local school PTAs, on the school system's Foundation, and on district committees to support bond referendums and sales tax measures to support schools. In accepting the award, Mr. Woodruff expressed his appreciation, saying, "I cannot accept this award without the following caveat... this award is not about Woody Woodruff. There are many more deserving volunteers out there, working for GCPS children every day. I am humbled and pleased to accept this award for them. They know that public education is worth fighting for every day."

- The Board of Education honored the Gwinnett HEAT Adapted Sports Team on their 2012 state championship season. This is the first basketball state championship for the Gwinnett Heat, a relatively new adapted sports team. Attending the Board meeting with the student-athletes were Mike Phillips, the district's adapted sports coordinator, Head Coach Michaela Istone-Haupt, and assistant coaches Len Boudreaux and Lynnette Swanson. In accepting this award, organizers alerted those in the audience that the Gwinnett Heat is in the middle of their football season and invited all to attend their game this Saturday at Monarch School.

- Another state championship team honored at the Board meeting was the 2012 Brookwood HS Girls Swim and Dive Team. This is the Brookwood team's fifth state championship, having earned the title in 2001 through 2004. Principal Debra Dees introduced Head Coach Greg Puckett, sharing that in addition to the state championships, the team has finished as state runner-up in three of the last five years. Also, looking back over the past 20 years, the program has earned recognition at the county level, taking the county championship 16 times. In introducing his team, Coach Puckett expressed his appreciation to the Board for their support, to his assistant coaches for their hard work, and to his team for their dedication.

- Collins Hill HS' wrestling team also earned recognition as the 2012 GHSA AAAAA Wrestling Champs. This is the fifth consecutive state traditional championship for the Collins Hill HS wrestling team. Overall, this is the school's twelfth state championship in wrestling (combined traditional and dual). Activities Director Roland Wallace introduced Head Coach Josh Stephen. Coach Stephen thanked the Board and the community for their support. In talking about some of the highlights of the season, he shared, "We dominated the traditional state tournament and we experienced a lot of success this year as a team and on an individual basis."

- Board members congratulated the Parkview HS Boys Swim and Dive Team on winning its eighth state championship. Accompanying the honorees were Principal David Smith, Activities Director Mark Whitley, Head Coach Jack Gayle and Assistant Coach Eric Brown. Principal Smith shared that both coaches are Parkview graduates and that much of the team's success can be attributed to their leadership.

- More state winners were spotlighted as the Board honored students who placed first and second at the state DECA conference. DECA is an international association of high school and college students studying marketing, management and entrepreneurship in business, finance, hospitality, and marketing sales and service. Gwinnett County Public Schools has 17 active DECA Chapters with over 2,075 students participating.  Through DECA, students have the opportunity to participate in leadership development activities and compete in a variety of events. Students recognized tonight will be competing at the International Career Development Conference from April 28 – May 1, 2012, in Salt Lake City, UT. Click here for a listing of Gwinnett honorees. On behalf of the high school principals, Mountain View HS Principal Keith Chaney congratulated the students and thanked all of their technical education teachers.

- The Board of Education commended Emily Ritter of North Gwinnett HS on winning the National Computing Aspirations Award. The National Center for Women & Information Technology Award for Aspirations in Computing honors young women at the high school level for their computing-related achievements and interests.  Emily was among 20 young women in Georgia who were picked for their interests and capabilities in computer science. Emily's teacher sponsor is Deepa Muralidhar.

- Members of the School Board congratulated three students in the Grayson HS Technical Education Program on their first and second place honors from the Health Occupations Student Organization (HOSA). HOSA is a student organization whose mission is to promote career opportunities in healthcare and to enhance the delivery of quality healthcare to all people.  Students in the Healthcare Science Program at Grayson Technical competed for the opportunity to represent Georgia at the National Conference, June 20-23, 2012, in Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Orlando, FL. The award-winning students and their area of honors are: Kyiona Naomi Jackson, first place, Physical Therapy, Katherine M. Trainer, first place, National Recognition Program, and Kirstie Selena Adams, second place, Extemporaneous Speaking. In addition to honoring the students, the school's administration extended its thanks to the teachers who work with these students, Alicia McCracken and Gina Carpenter.

- Two North Gwinnett HS students earned a nod from the Board of Education on their second-place finishes at the state technology fair. Patrick Caruso placed in the category of Project Programming: 9-10th grade and Abhishek Somasundaram placed in Project Programming: 11-12th grade. The Georgia Educational Technology Consortium sponsors an annual State Technology Fair to showcase projects that students have created. The projects are based on originality, clarity, documentation, appropriateness, and design. Students also are required to demonstrate an understanding of the software used to create their project and explain why the specific software was used. Congratulations to these students and their teacher sponsor Deepa Muralidhar.

- Board members congratulated nine Gwinnett students on their first and second place finishes in the SkillsUSA State Leadership 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. Gwinnett's honored students from Maxwell HS of Technology include: Dillon Bradford- first place in Electronics Technology; William Anderson- second place in Collision Repair Technology; Zachary Clement, Ryan Andersen, and Tevin Phillip- second place in Flight Operations; Devash Persaud- second place in Job Skill Demo A; Andrew Peters- second place in Motorcycle Service Technology; and Elizabeth Cash and Charles Green- second place in Web Design.

- Gwinnett County Public Schools has seven (7) active Technology Students’ Association (TSA) Chapters with over 300 students participating.  Through TSA, students have the opportunity to participate in leadership development activities and compete in a variety of events related to technology. The 20 students recognized at the Board meeting earned first or second place at the state level and will have the opportunity to compete at the National TSA Conference, June 21-25, 2012, in Nashville, Tennessee. Those students are: Jeremy Crowe and Brandon Young of Archer HS- first place in Technology Problem Solving; David Hernandez of Collins Hill HS- first place in Computer Aided Design, 2D Architectural; Taylor Angi of Collins Hill HS- first place in Computer Aided Design, 3D Engineering; Vivek Patel and James Gadea of Collins Hill HS- first place in Biotechnology Design; Michael Deiters of Mill Creek HS- first place in Electronics Applications; David Hernandez and Vivek Patel of Collins Hill HS- second place in Architectural Model; Alykhan Lalani, Vivek Patel, David Hernandez, and James Gadea of Collins Hill HS- second place in Digital Video Production; Kate Unsworth, Anay Nawathe, Alykhan Lalani, and James Gadea of Collins Hill HS- second place in Technology Bowl; Avi Amin and Nil Patel of Grayson HS- second place in Construction Renovation. In addition, the Board acknowledged Cynthia McIntire of Collins Hill HS on her election as Sergeant at Arms for the state association.

- Board members also congratulated a number of students who earned scholarships, which were introduced by Kelly Herndon, executive director for the Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation Fund, Inc.
  • Abbey Rikard of Grayson HS and Tyler Perini of Peachtree Ridge HS-- The winners of the 2012 J. Alvin Wilbanks Scholarship-- This fund was established in 2007 by Gwinnett Federal Credit Union in honor of over four decades of service to public education by CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks, and in recognition of his leadership in guiding the district to state and national prominence as superintendent since 1996.  The fund provides a one-time scholarship each year to a GCPS senior pursuing a career in education. 
  • Adarsh Patel of Grayson HS and Cory Zeller of Dacula HS-- The winners of the 2012 Louise Radloff Scholarship-- The Louise Radloff Scholarship Program is to provide funds for a Gwinnett County high school senior who has overcome a significant personal challenge in order to graduate and is pursuing post-secondary study through a four-year, two-year or certificate program.  This fund was established in 2004 by Gwinnett Federal Credit Union in honor of three decades of service by Gwinnett County Board of Education member Louise Radloff, and in recognition of her tireless work on behalf of those most in need.
  • Angelina Faria of Grayson HS and Tyler Perini of Peachtree Ridge HS-- The winners of the 2012 Alton C. Crews Teaching Scholarship-- Since 2002, donations made to the Alton C. Crews Teaching Scholarship Fund in memory of Dr. Crews, superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools from 1977 to 1989, have made it possible to award a one-time scholarship annually to a GCPS senior pursuing a career in education.
  • Jose Aveiga of Collins Hill HS and Alex Steele of Meadowcreek HS-- The winners of the 2012 Robbie Susan Moore Scholarship-- Founded in 2012 by the United Ebony Society in honor of community activist Robbie Susan Moore, this scholarship will recognize deserving students from the African American community who have exemplified a dedication to community service and to the pursuit of higher education. Marlene Taylor-Crawford, president of the United Ebony Society and counselor at Britt ES, was joined by members Penny Poole and Joe McCarty in presenting this award. The scholarship winners exhibit the characteristics exemplified by Ms. Moore whose leadership legacy is still felt throughout the community today.
  • Michael Ziegler of Grayson HS-- winner of the 2012 Barbara Reed Science Scholarship-- The Dr. Barbara Reed Science Scholarship is a one-time award of $500 to one student who exhibits good character and leadership skills, maintained a 3.0 GPA and has a desire to enter the science field. Special consideration is given to applicants interested in science education. This award is named in honor of Dr. Barbara Reed, a longtime Gwinnett educator who also served as the district's science director.

School Board approves revisions to GRS plan document
The provisions and operational procedures of the Gwinnett County Board of Education’s Retirement System (GRS) are described in the GRS Plan Document. Since 1983, the Board has amended and restated the Plan Document from time to time to reflect changes in legislation and also to institute desired changes to benefits. The Plan’s actuary recently concluded an experience study of the Plan to validate the assumptions used to determine contributions necessary to maintain a funding level adequate to fund all benefits as they become due. As a result of the study, the actuary has recommend changes to assumptions and Plan provisions affecting vesting requirements for active employee participants and optional reductions in future retirement benefits to reflect the actual cost of providing survivors’ benefits. Based on the Plan actuary’s recommendations, the GRS Plan Administrative Committee voted to approve a recommendation to the Board to adopt a revised and restated Plan Document. Based on the Plan's actuary projections, a "Normal" employer contribution rate of 4.26% would be required to fully fund the Plan per the amended GRS Plan Document. The recommended employer contribution rate for FY2013 is less than the "Normal" rate due to the Plan's current funding status.

BOE members approve change to Student Conduct Behavior Code
Board members approved changes to the Student Conduct Behavior Code that had been tabled at a previous meeting. The changes are aligned with improvements in system processes. Specifically, the revision includes a code of conduct for athletes. The offenses and consequences included as part of the code of conduct are in addition to (not in lieu of) any school or criminal consequences associated with a student's misconduct. In addition, the consequences are minimum standards and coaches have the discretion to set consequences over and above the minimum standards.

Citizens addressing the Board
- Juan Lazo

- Lorna Bledsoe