GCPS Board Meeting Summary for June 16, 2011

The following are highlights of the June 16, 2011, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. Board members present included Dr. Robert McClure, Louise Radloff, Carole Boyce, Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, and Daniel D. Seckinger. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.

Board members honor award-winning students, teachers, and schools
-- Board members recognized 18 members of the Class of 2011 on their perfect attendance records during their K-12 education. The students are Katelynn Burkart of Archer HS; Kiandra Brady, Onyebuchi Imonugo, and Christopher Lewis, all of Brookwood HS; Melissa Singh of Collins Hill HS; Clay Ardeeser of Grayson HS; Adilene Gaytan-Morales and Denisse V. Rojas-Lopez, both of Meadowcreek HS; Monica Grimes, Nelson Nguyen, and Vanessa Nguyen, all of Mill Creek HS; Freddy Carbajal and John McWilliams, both of Norcross HS; Myung Kim and Gerard Willingham, both of Parkview HS; Eun-Jung Kim and Ahla Ko, both of Peachtree Ridge HS; and Andrew E. Cochran of South Gwinnett HS.

-- The Board of Education saluted teams from four Gwinnett schools on their success in the state finals of the Odyssey of the Mind (OM) program.
  • Trickum MS (Team Members- Arohi Bhakhri, Rachel Bush, Hannah Corbin, Eric Dong, Praful Gade, Ryan Kern, and Austin Pair; Teacher- Linda LePerre; and OM Coaches- Michael Edwards and Abbie Pair)- 2nd Place in Division II, Unhinged Structure Problem
  • Central Gwinnett Team (Team Members- Caskey Dyer, Braden Glover, and Emily Thompson of Central Gwinnett HS; Meghan Serafin of Mill Creek HS; and Catalina Dulling and Emily Glover of Richards MS; and OM Coach- Laura Klingensmith) 1st Place in Division III- Le Tour Guide Performance.
  • Parkview HS (Team Members- Parjae Choi, Wonil Kang, Shahrukj Kiwani, Aliammar Malani, Victoria Richardson, and Evan Williams; OM Sponsors- Mary Jane Austin and Sue Stovall; Gifted Teacher- Rebecca Bronnum; OM Coaches- Michael Edwards and Mandy Richards)- 1st Place in Division III, Unhinged Structure Problem
  • Peachtree Ridge HS (Team Members- Alaina Cramb, Kendall Fears, Kendra Hada, Mary Kate Higgins, Justin Isbecque, Alex Jackson, and Elizabeth Johnson; OM School Coordinator- Beth Feustel; and OM Coach- Guy Cramb)- 1st Place in Division III Good as Gold... berg Performance and 1st Place in Division III Le Tour Guide Performance
Odyssey of the Mind is an international creative problem-solving program. Students from around the world-- from Japan and Singapore to Poland and the U.S.-- participate in their own countries, then send their best teams to the World Finals. The four teams represented Georgia in the World Finals, which were held this year at the University of Maryland. At the World Finals, the Peachtree Ridge team placed 11th in the Good as Gold...berg problem and 6th in the Le Tour problem. Trickum finished 12th in their category, with a 2nd place finish in spontaneous competition. The Central Gwinnett Team finished 16th at the World Finals. And, the Parkview Team finished 24th in the World competition. Representing the principals of these outstanding students, Parkview HS Principal David Smith shared how Odyssey of the Mind promotes 21st century skills that will help students succeed in an increasingly competitive world. He thanked the members of the Board of Education for their continued support of students and Odyssey of the Mind.

-- Board members honored Geoff Richardson of Brookwood HS, Ross Cunningham of Parkview HS, and Ryan O'Donnell of Mill Creek HS on their "perfect papers" on the National Latin Exam. Each year, more than 130,000 students around the world participate in the National Latin Exam. Fewer than 1% of those students achieve a perfect score on the exam, which assesses a student's understanding of the Latin language. On the Level 1 exam, fewer than 250 perfect papers were the result of the more than 50,000 exams administered. Mr. Cunningham is one of only 14 students to achieve a perfect paper on the Level 3 exam. Nearly 15,000 students took the test. Mr. O'Donnell's achievement is similarly impressive with only six of the 3,100 students around the globe achieving a perfect paper on the Level 4 Prose exam. Accompanying the students were their respective principals-- Debbie Dees of Brookwood HS and David Smith of Parkview HS.

-- The Board recognized Dr. Robert Patrick of Parkview HS on his recent recognition as Georgia Latin Teacher of the Year. He was officially recognized as the state's top Latin teacher during the Junior Classical League Convention in April. Two of the award requirements are that the teacher possess sound teaching practices and demonstrate evidence of ongoing professional growth. Dr. Patrick excels in both areas and is viewed as a leader, not only among Latin teachers in Gwinnett, but among teachers across the nation. In addition to this professional achievement, Dr. Patrick was honored as Parkview HS' Teacher of the Year in 2008-09. In introducing Dr Patrick, Foreign Language Director David Jahner said that students in Dr. Patrick's classes are engaged, motivated, and excited about Latin. He also stated that Gwinnett's Latin program is known as one of the best around the nation because of teachers like Dr. Bob Patrick.

-- The School Board extended its congratulations to another group of outstanding foreign language students... those who placed 1st or 2nd in the state on the National Spanish Exam. Each year, more than 125,000 Spanish students around the country participate in the National Spanish Exam, which is administered online. The mission of the National Spanish Exam is to recognize student achievement and to promote language proficiency in the study of the Spanish language. Students who place 1st - 6th among their peers in the state received a certificate and an engraved medal with ribbon. They also received gift certificates to Barnes and Noble and a Spanish dictionary. Gwinnett's standout Spanish students are:
  • Alejandra Mejia of Norcross HS: 2nd Place, Spanish 2 Bilingual
  • Brittany Thompson of GSMST: 1st Place, Spanish 3
  • Hamdi Abdi of GSMST: 1st Place, Spanish 3
  • Andrew Wirt of GSMST: 1st Place, Spanish 3
  • Stephanie Diaz of GSMST: 1st Place, Spanish 3 Bilingual
  • Peter Kim of Brookwood HS: 1st Place, Spanish 4
  • Brynna Paulukaitis of Parkview HS: 2nd Place, Spanish
Dr. Jeff Mathews, principal of GSMST, recognized the talents of these outstanding students on behalf of the principals of the schools the award-winning students attend.

-- Stéphane Hosty and Saritha Mangonés, both of Brookwood HS, also were honored by the Gwinnett Board of Education for foreign language skills. The two were top finishers on the National French Exam. Miss Mangonés earned 2nd place in the state and nation on the Level 2 exam and Mr. Hosty took 1st place in the state on the Level 4 exam. Each year, French teachers around the country administer Le Grand Concours,or National French Exam. More than 100,000 public and private school students participate in the exam, which assesses a student's ability in interpretive communication tasks of listening and reading. It's notable that 38 Gwinnett students ranked in the top 10 in the state in their respective levels of study.

-- Wrapping up recent foreign language honors were three North Gwinnett HS students-- Elizabeth Clark, Alicia Howard, and Amanda Wall-- who earned 1st place in the French Embassy Green Connection National Contest, sponsored by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. As 1st place winners, the three students won an all-expenses-paid trip to La Rochelle, France, from July 4 to July 14. The students submitted individual project proposals for local or personal environmental initiatives. The presentation included a demonstration of the student's interest in environmental issues and commitment to environmental protection. According to Clementine Bernon, Deputy Cultural Attache at the French Consulate in Atlanta, the winning videos will be published on the site of the French Consul General in Atlanta and on the site of the French Cultural Ambassador to the United States. Accompanying the students were French Teachers Rhonda Archer and Janice Russell.

Gwinnett superintendent issues statement on recent news coverage of Gwinnett County Public Schools
CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks shared information about recent news articles in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that have focused on the district's processes for purchasing land on which to build new schools or acquiring existing facilities to convert into schools and needed space for instructional support services. In his comments, Mr. Wilbanks reviewed the coverage to date, expressed his disappointment in the articles, and directed those in the audience to the district website if they wanted to review the questions and answers provided for this series of articles. He said, "I encourage anyone interested in the facts to review this information. We have nothing to hide. To the contrary, we are very proud of the work we have done to provide classrooms for students, as well as this Instructional Support Center, which supports teachers and houses staff who perform critical systemwide functions that directly relate to our core business of teaching and learning." Click here to read the Superintendent's complete statement.

Gwinnett BOE approves one-year charter for Ivy Preparatory Academy
The Gwinnett County Board of Education approved a one-year contract to authorize Ivy Preparatory Academy as a local charter school. This contract would enable Ivy Prep to serve students for the coming year while petitions for future years are developed and evaluated. As approved, the charter school would be a Local Education Agency (LEA) start-up charter school under the control and management of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. The charter term would be from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012, and would include currently enrolled students in grades 6-9. Following a decision from the Ivy Prep governing board, the contract between GCPS and Ivy Prep will go to the Georgia Board of Education. At the beginning of the meeting, Head of School Nina Gilbert rescinded Ivy Preparatory Academy's request for Gwinnett County Public Schools to approve the proposed one-year charter. Despite this request, members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education moved forward in a good-faith effort with approving Ivy Preparatory Academy as a local charter school for one year, leaving the choice as to whether to move forward on this request to the charter school's governing board.

Ivy Preparatory Academy had been operating as a charter school approved by the Georgia Charter Schools Commission. Last month, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that commission-approved charter schools were unconstitutional. Over the past month, school district leaders and appropriate representatives from Ivy Preparatory Academy have worked on options to allow the school to continue operations in the upcoming year.

Board conducts annual Assessment Review Procedure
Of the 46,082 Gwinnett students required to meet local Gateway promotion requirements, the vast majority earned passing scores on the first try and were promoted to the next grade level. To earn promotion to the next grade, Gwinnett's 4th and 7th graders must meet on-grade-level expectations on each section of the state’s CRCT, while GCPS students in grades 5 and 8 must make a passing score on the Georgia Writing Assessment. Of those students required to meet these promotion requirements, only 316 students did not do as well as would be expected, based on their classroom grades. For these students, the school system’s Assessment Review Procedure was initiated and acted upon by the Gwinnett County Board of Education. The results of the review and the recommendations for the students are found in the table below.
Number of Students Required to Pass
Students in Board’s Review
Gateway Waived:
No Summer School
Gateway Waived: Summer School Recommended
Do Not Waive Gateway: Summer School Highly Recommended
Grade 4
Grade 7
Grade 5
Grade 8

Elementary and middle school students required to take a retest for promotion have the opportunity to receive instructional help in free summer classes that focus on area(s) of academic weakness. Qualifying students may attend Gwinnett’s Academic Summer School, scheduled for June 20 to July 14, with no Friday classes and a holiday on July 4.

Board approves GUIDE agreement
Annually, the Gwinnett County Board of Education and the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners enter into an agreement to support the operation of GUIDE, Inc., which develops and delivers local programs and services related to education about the prevention of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use and abuse. This year marks the 24th year that GUIDE has served Gwinnett's needs for a substance abuse prevention agency. The financial impact of this agreement for the school system is $32,750.

Board receives eCLASS update
CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks provided Board members with an update on the school district's eCLASS initiative, that focuses on digital Content, Learning, Assessment, and Support System. eCLASS is being developed to improve teaching and learning through expanded technological capabilities that integrate various components of the district's educational program, including instruction, assessment, and human capital management.

Board approves naming of Grayson HS media center
The Board approved a request from the Grayson HS community that the school media center be named in memory of Dr. Linda Williams and be called the "Dr. Linda Williams Memorial Media Center." Dr. Williams began her career in education in Gainesville, Ga., in 1974. Following a brief stint in Hall County, she moved to Forsyth County where she taught for four years. Dr. Williams joined Gwinnett County Public Schools in 1979 and stayed in the district for the remainder of her career. She was an assistant principal at Grayson HS when it opened in 2000 until she retired in 2006. As a retiree, she returned and worked part-time at Grayson until 2011. Dr. Williams passed away earlier this spring.

Board member to attend Regional Leadership Institute
The Board approved a request from District I Board member Carole Boyce to attend the Regional Leadership Institute, which will be held September 11-16. The RLI, founded in 1991, is a program of the Atlanta Regional Commission that brings together business, civic, and public leaders from across the 10-county Atlanta region. RLI's purpose is to facilitate discussions and address issues facing metropolitan Atlanta.

Board continues updates to policies
The Board approved the following policy:
- Policy BHB- Board Member and CEO/Superintendent Nepotism-- This NEW policy has been created to reflect improvements in system processes and mandates in state and/or federal law.

The following policies have been tabled until next month's meeting to allow for public input:
- Policy FGB- Site Acquisition (Disposal)-- Proposed changes to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.
- Policy BCBI- Public Participation in Board Meetings-- Proposed changes to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.
- Policy BCAB- School Board Meetings-- Proposed changes to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.

Citizens addressing the Board
- Glen B. Williams
- Carol Ranft, Georgia PTA
- Nina Gilbert
- Dr. Patty Heitmuller