GCPS Board Meeting Summary for January 13, 2000

          Board Attends to Annual Business at Start of New Year
          January is the month for the School Board to adopt its officers for the new calendar year. Dr. Billy Britt, 1999 vice chairman of the Board, was elected chairman for 2000 as the first order of business. Dr. Britt presided over the remainder of the January meeting. Louise Radloff was elected vice chairman of the Board for 2000. In accordance with Board Policy BBA, the Board reaffirmed its policies and bylaws, designated the Gwinnett Daily Post as the official media organ for the school system, approved retaining the services of Thompson & Sweeny as its legal counsel, and set the 2000 Board meeting calendar. The Board will meet on the second Thursday of each month except the month of June, when the Board will meet on the fourth Thursday. During 2000, the Board of Education will meet at 7 p.m. at Lawrenceville East on the following dates:
          • February 10
          • March 9
          • April 13
          • May 11
          • June 22
          • July 13
          • August 10
          • September 14
          • October 12
          • November 9
          • December 14

          Board Recognizes Rock Springs ES Teacher
          The Board honored Debi West, a teacher at Rock Springs ES, on being named Southeast Elementary Art Educator of the Year. She was introduced by principal Cheryl Wilson, who described Ms. West's art classroom as "a carnival," filled with "good stuff everywhere."

          Citizens Address the Board
          Lt. Col. Monte J. Carlos, U. S. Marine Corps recruiter, and representatives of other branches of the Armed Services urged the Board to reconsider its current practice of denying recruiters access to student directory information, which they feel is needed for recruitment purposes. Mr. Wilbanks instructed staff to look into the request.

          North Gwinnett Cluster residents Alan Shockley and Joe Sims addressed the Board regarding a property matter affecting their neighborhood. They asked the Board not to purchase residential property across from North Gwinnett High School that the neighboring residents believe will be used for additional parking lots for the school.

          Connie Wiggins, executive director of Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful (GC&B), commended the Board and school system on the district's partnership with GC&B. Through joint activities of the GCPS and GC&B, improvements have been seen in the county in the areas of waste reduction, conservation of resources, and beautification. Ms. Wiggins shared data showing the leadership role of the Board in helping to educate citizens and to involve them in beautification and conservation efforts that enhance the quality of life in Gwinnett County.

          Leadership Appointments Approved by the Board
          • Barbara Hopkins, currently an assistant principal at Suwanee Elementary, was appointed principal of Benefield Elementary. She will succeed Principal Larry Smith, who is retiring at the end of this school year.
          • Beverly Todd-Lee, currently an assistant principal at Shiloh Elementary, will be the principal of W.C. Britt Elementary next school year. She will fill the position vacated by Gloria Sheppard, who is retiring at the end of the school year.
          • Scott Woodall, a teacher at Berkmar High, has been appointed as an administrative assistant at the school.
          • Sigrid Fehrman, currently a half-time intervention specialist at Taylor and Kanoheda elementary schools, has been appointed as a half-time administrative assistant at Rebecca Minor Elementary. She will continue to serve as a half-time intervention specialist at Kanoheda.
          • Allison Dalton has transferred from her position as assistant principal at Berkmar High to an assistant principal position at Parkview High.

          Board Hears Report on Bus Driver Recruitment
          Doug Puckett, director of classified staffing in the Division of Human Resources, provided Board members with information and recommendations regarding the school system's efforts to hire and retain school bus drivers. The report, prompted by the increasing need for bus drivers and the competitiveness of the job market, was based on a survey of 75 individuals who had either completed the bus driver training program but resigned soon after starting as a bus driver (group 1), or who began but did not complete the training program (group 2). Most respondents in group 1 said they resigned for personal reasons. But when asked what could have been done to prevent their resignation, almost one-third said improve student discipline. For group 2 respondents, the number one reason listed for not completing the training program was pay, followed by child care concerns. When asked what GCPS could have done to encourage them to participate in the training, higher pay was named first, and providing help with child care was listed second.
          Mr. Puckett then shared with the Board a series of recommendations based on the findings of the survey. Among the recommendations were the following: help employees deal with child care issues; support drivers in dealing with student discipline matters; provide veteran bus drivers as monitors on routes with discipline problems or inexperienced drivers; improve communication among drivers, students, parents, and administrators; hire the driver before training begins so they are paid during the training period; and continually look for ways to adjust the drivers' salary based on requirements of the position and the current job market. The recommendations are currently under consideration by the human resources and transportation departments.

          Vision 2010 Report Shared with Board
          Michael Tennant, chairman of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce's "Vision 2010" task force, updated the Board on the progress Gwinnett County is making toward reaching its goals and benchmarks in the areas of education, quality of life, infrastructure, business environment, and government and private sector leadership. The Gwinnett County Board of Education is a partner in the Vision 2010 initiative. At its reunion last November, reported Mr. Tennant, the Vision 2010 partners dealing with education voiced "resounding support" for the direction of the school system and the School Board's Gateway Assessment Program.

          Board of Education Authorizes the Issuance of Short-term Construction Notes
          The Board adopted a resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of $85,000,000 in principal construction sales tax notes for the calendar year 2000. These notes are to be issued as a temporary loan in anticipation of the 2000 sales tax revenues. Proceeds will be used to pay expenses relating to the 1997 SPLOST-funded building program. The notes will be retired on December 31, 2000. Similar notes were issued in 1998 and 1999. They provided constant cash flow for the school system's capital projects while waiting for sales tax revenue to be collected. The issuance of the notes will result in no net cost to the school system.

          Board Adopts Proposed Policy Change
          The Board adopted changes to Policy DCD (Student Conduct Behavior), which had been tabled since the Board's December meeting. The approved changes to the policy meet the requirements outlined in House Bill 605.

          Board Extends Superintendent's Contract for Two Years
          The Board unanimously approved extending Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks' current contract for two years beginning on July 1, 2000, and extending through June 30, 2002. Local legislation limits a superintendent's contract in Gwinnett County to two years. Mr. Wilbanks' new contract provides for an annual salary of $141,500 beginning January 1, 2000. Board member Dr. Mary Kay Murphy said, "We are very proud and honored that our superintendent is recognized as a leader in Georgia as well as in Gwinnett County." In extending his contract, the Board expressed a vote of confidence in Mr. Wilbanks' leadership of the school system, which began in March 1996.

          Special Recognition Bestowed on Gwinnett School Board
          Certificates of appreciation were given to the Board members by Mr. Wilbanks in recognition of School Board Member Appreciation Week, which was observed the week of January 3-7. In honoring the Board, Mr. Wilbanks said, "When it comes to what's in the best interest of students, this Board comes together as one and reaches consensus."
          Following his remarks, Dr. Cindy Loe, associate superintendent for organizational advancement, announced that Gwinnett County Public Schools has been recognized by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) for its exemplary efforts in increasing student achievement through public involvement. GCPS is one of 15 districts nationwide that NSBA selected to feature in its new publication, The Community Connection: Case Studies in Public Engagement. The report calls the selected districts "bellwethers that afford insights into convening the community for student achievement." GCPS is cited specifically for its effective involvement of the community in the development of the Academic Knowledge and Skills and Gateway Assessment Program. Dr. Loe credited the Board's leadership in the eight key areas identified by NSBA as the foundations for increasing student achievement. The eight areas, called the "Key Work of School Boards," are vision, standards, assessment, alignment, climate, collaborative relationship, accountability, and continuous improvement.

          GCPS Says Good-bye to Rick Cost
          Mr. Wilbanks and the Board thanked Chief Financial Officer Rick Cost for his 10 years of service to the school system in the area of business and finance. Mr. Cost has accepted a position as chief financial officer with DeKalb County Schools beginning February 1. Mr. Cost was commended for his expertise and knowledge in the critical areas of school finance. A nationwide search is underway for his successor.