GCPS Board Meeting Summary for May 10, 2007

The following are highlights of the May 10, 2007, 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
-- CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks thanked members of the Superintendent's Council of Community Advisors (SCCA) for their service this past year. Woody Woodruff serves as chairman of the SCCA. In addition to explaining the role of the SCCA, Mr. Woodruff expressed his appreciation to Mr. Wilbanks for his work to involve community members in the school system.
-- CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks and Board members expressed their appreciation to the SPLOST Steering Committee. This committee led the citizens campaign which played a critical role in the passage of the extension of the sales tax for schools. The committee's chair, Mike Levengood, addressed the Board, recognizing a number of individuals who served on the committee. He also expressed his appreciation to the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, the business community, and the voters of Gwinnett County for their continued support of public schools. In his comments, he thanked the Board and Superintendent, stating that it is because of their work, vision, and leadership that it is easy to persuade voters to continue to support this highly successful funding mechanism.
-- Board members honored Harrison Falk of Duluth HS on his recognition as Georgia's winner in the 20th Annual National Peace Essay Contest. For the past 20 years, the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., has sponsored this essay contest. One student essay from each state is selected as the statewide winner. Approximately 4,000 students from across the country wrote essays for this year's competition. As Georgia's winner, Harrison has been invited to a special week-long program in Washington, D.C., where he will have the opportunity to meet with senior United States government and foreign embassy officials, members of Congress, and other experts involved in the making of American foreign policy. In addition to receiving a $1,000 college scholarship, Harrison will compete for national recognition.
-- A team of Parkview HS students was saluted on its first-place finish in the Metro-Atlanta WorldQuest Competition. Academic WorldQuest is a team game testing competitors' knowledge of international affairs, geography, history, culture, and current events. The local competition was held at Georgia State University and sponsored by the Southern Center for International Studies. This year, the teams from Parkview placed first and second, defeating 17 teams from other schools from around the state. This first-place win marks the first time a Gwinnett team has won this state competition. The winning team of Sam Kim, Ryan McLaren, Ian Nurse, and Sanjay Srivatsan advanced to the national finals, which was sponsored by the World Affairs Council in Washington, D.C. In a three-day weekend competition, the team competed against students from 44 other districts. Parkview HS social studies teacher Regina Loveridge was the team's coach.
-- Two teams of Parkview HS students also were recognized for top finishes in the state Economic Challenge. Team members compete as individuals on a microeconomics and a macroeconomics test and then, as a team, on an international economics test. At the state level, the top two teams advance to a 30-question quiz bowl competition. In the College Prep Division of the Economic Challenge, another Parkview HS team finished first in the state and fourth in the nation. Team members included Zane Blanton, Brian Goodrow, Thomas Izzo, and Zia Johnson. In the Advanced Placement Division of the Economic Challenge, the team of William Drobny, Archana Kumar, Linda Liu, and Elliot Strumlauf placed second in state competition with team members Linda Liu and William Drobny placing first and second overall, respectively. Both teams were coached by Gary Petmecky.
-- School Board members recognized a two-student Lilburn ES team on their first-place finish in the Elementary Division and third-place finish overall in the 2006 Stock Market Game, sponsored by the Georgia Council on Economic Education. Team members Mateo Jaimes and Ivan Valencia invested a hypothetical $100,000 in the market over a 10-week period. During this time, they grew their portfolio to $175,609. Vincent Vilello, a Lilburn ES teacher, served as the team coach. Mr. Vielo recognized a group of staff members who supported the school's 5th graders as they learned about the stock market and played the game, including Beverly Allen, Simone Dreifuss, Jane Evans, Laura Flaherty, and Cody Nolan.
-- In the
Teacher Division of the Stock Market Game, Julie McClennan of Camp Creek ES earned the state title. Each year, approximately 2,000 Georgia teachers participate in the Teacher Division of the Stock Market Game, sponsored by the Georgia Council of Economic Education. Through the Stock Market Game, participants invest a hypothetical $100,000 over a 10-week period. Ms. McClennan's final portfolio, valued at $110,221 at the end of the competition, put her over the top to win the Teacher Division.
-- Parkview HS continued its strong showing in the Stock Market Game, winning the spring 2007 state competition. Each year 30,000 teams from across Georgia participate in the Georgia Stock Market Game. Teams of students invest a hypothetical $100,000 over a 10-week period. The Parkview HS team finished the game with a portfolio valuing $225,000. Gary Petmecky, economics teacher, coached this state-winning team. Team members include Nikil Kashyap, Daniel Kreisler, and Marcus Lostracco.
-- Parkview HS won its fifth-straight state championship in the Science Olympiad. The team will proceed to the national competition in Wichita, KS, in May. Science Olympiad competitions consist of 23 individual and team events. Each year, events are updated to reflect the ever-changing nature of the latest advances in science. Science Olympiad encourages a wide cross-section of students to participate. Emphasis is placed on active, hands-on group participation. Coaching the team were Phil Heier and Susan Parker. Team members include Zain Gillani, Ting Gou, Murat Johnson, Archana Kumar, Linda Liu, James McDowell, Emily Peng, Shalini Ramachandran, Sumi Selvaraj, Sanjay Srivatsan, Aneesha Thobani, Cathy Vu, Dominique Wang, Stephanie Wang, and Hamilton Wen.
-- Board members saluted Lilburn MS and Louise Radloff MS on receiving the HOSTS Learning Mentoring and Intervention Best Practices Award. This award was created to acknowledge and showcase schools that have demonstrated the use of best practices in critical areas that support success and increased student achievement. Both schools were recognized for implementing best practices and achieving results in the areas of program leadership, implementation, program impact and extension, community connections, and assessment results. As administrators of the HOSTS programs at their schools, Pam Webb and Dr. Connie Davis have shown their professional dedication and commitment to improving student achievement and serving the needs of the community.
-- Louise Radloff MS also earned recognition by the Visiting International Faculty (VIF) Program as the VIF Georgia School of the Year. VIF is the United States' largest international-exchange program for teachers and schools, involving more than 1,700 teachers from over 50 countries teaching in more than 1,000 United States schools for the 2005-06 school year. Designated by the United States government as an Exchange Program Sponsor, VIF recruits the world's finest educators, matches them with United States primary and secondary schools, and supports them and their host schools throughout their stay in the United States. VIF teachers serve up to three years as full-time classroom teachers and cultural ambassadors before returning to their home countries. Dr. Patty Heitmuller is principal at Louise Radloff MS. The VIF teachers are Rubia Castro Diaz from Colombia, ESOL teacher; Lindsay Fernandez from Canada, Social Studies teacher, and Vanesa Gerardi from Argentina, ESOL teacher.
-- The Board of Education honored Dat Thanh Le, a senior at Collins Hill HS, on his receipt of the Louise Radloff Scholarship. Each year, this scholars program provides a one-time scholarship in the amount of $2,000 to a graduating senior from a Gwinnett County high school. The individual receiving the scholarship has overcome significant personal challenges in order to graduate, and is interested in pursuing postsecondary study at an accredited college, university, or technical school. This fund was established in 2004 by Gwinnett Federal Credit Union in honor of Mrs. Radloff's three decades of service on the Gwinnett County Board of Education.
-- In addition to presenting the Radloff Scholarship winner, Marshall Boutwell, president/CEO of Gwinnett Federal Credit Union, announced a new scholarship named for CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. "We have long appreciated his leadership and commitment to Gwinnett County. He is a genuine treasure. The Wilbanks Award will be an annual scholarship presented to a Gwinnett County student. As the credit union adds this new student scholarship opportunity, it also will add an additional career advancement scholarship opportunity.
-- In other scholarship news, School Board members recognized Jane Ho of Mill Creek HS as this year's Alton C. Crews Scholarship recipient. This scholarship provides a one-time scholarship in the amount of $3,000 to a graduating senior who has plans to enter a four-year college or university to prepare for a career in teaching. The Alton C. Crews Scholarship Fund was established in memory of Dr. Alton C. Crews, former superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools, and has awarded a scholarship each year since 2002.
-- School Board members recognized members of the Grayson HS Boys Swim Team on its 2007 AAAAA state championship in the 400-yard freestyle relay. The relay team of Michael Brindley, Andrew Kendall, Jeremy Love, and Ryan Pech set a school record at Grayson HS in the 400-Yard Freestyle Relay, as well as in the 200-Yard Freestyle Relay. The team was coached by Bill Nye.
-- The Board of Education saluted the Parkview HS Boys Swim and Dive Team, this year's AAAAA state champion. This is the eighth time in a 12-year period that the Parkview HS Boys Swim and Dive Team has won the state championship. The team was coached by Jack Gayle and Eric Brown.
-- In other athletic news, the Board honored two Grayson HS students who earned state recognition in wrestling. James Boatright is the 2007 AAAAA State Wrestling Champion in the 285-pound weight class. This year's title follows a second-place finish in last year's competition. Another Grayson wrestler, Nathan Swanson, was saluted on his state championship in the 171-pound weight class. Both wrestlers had undefeated 2006-07 seasons. Grayson's wrestling team is coached by Steve West.
-- Members of the Norcross HS Boys Basketball Team were honored on their repeat state championship season. In addition to being the 2007 AAAAA state champions, the team's performance resulted in it being ranked in the top 10 nationally. Coach Eddie Martin complimented the team, saying "Not only are they great basketball players, they are great people." Assisting Coach Martin were Gregory Phillips, Keenan Temple, and Jesse McMillan.
-- For the third consecutive year, Collins Hill HS' Girls Basketball Team won the state championship. The team also is listed as the 2007 National Champions by USA Today. The team is one of the most awarded girls basketball teams in the history of Georgia, and the first girls basketball team in the state to be named national champions. Additional team honors included "National Player of the Year" and "National Coach of the Year" titles, earned by Maya Moore and Tracey Tipton, respectively. In introducing her team, Coach Tipton expressed her appreciation for the young ladies on her team, the Board's support throughout the season and allowing the team to travel the country to compete nationally. Assisting Coach Tipton this year was Paula Skinner.

Gwinnett County Board of Education approves FY08 Budget
School Board members approved the fiscal year 2008 (FY08) budget in the total expenditure amount of $1,702,906,359 as presented by the superintendent and tentatively adopted by the Board on April 17, 2007. As required by law, the budget was advertised in the local paper and two hearings were held to solicit public input. The maintenance and operations and debt service millage rates to support this budget are scheduled to be set on Monday, June 11, 2007. Click here to learn more about the FY08 budget.

Proposed calendars for 2008-09 and 2009-10 finalized
Proposed calendars for school years 2008-09 and 2009-10 have been developed and were shared at meetings throughout April and in employee publications. For the 2008-09 calendar, the district received input against a teacher workday on Friday, January 2, and for having a student/teacher holiday on Monday, February 16. However, input also was received against making changes that would extend graduation or post-planning after Memorial Day. Taking all of the feedback into consideration, no changes are recommended to the proposed 2008-09 and 2009-10 calendars. They are now ready to be communicated as final.
Click here to view the proposed calendars.

System celebrates the Class of 2007
Associate Superintendent Bobby Crowson presented an annual report on Gwinnett County Public Schools’ graduating seniors, indicating that, as of April, more than 8,000 students were on track to graduate from GCPS’ 16 high schools in graduation exercises in late May. The Class of 2007 continues a GCPS tradition with the vast majority of graduates headed for college in the fall. About 88 percent of expected 2007 graduates report plans to attend college or postsecondary school. To date, graduating seniors have been offered more than $71 million in academic, athletic, and military scholarships. Nearly two-thirds of that amount-- $43.8 million-- comes from academic scholarships. This amount does not include awards under the HOPE Scholarship Program.

School safety plans approved by GEMA
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) has reviewed and approved Gwinnett County Public Schools' (GCPS) school safety plans. As part of the process, GEMA reapproves the school system's school safety plans and presents the Board of Education with a certificate of approval.

Board continues work to update policies
-- The Board approved changes to Policy JCD, Student Conduct Behavior Code. Changes were proposed to align this policy with improvements in system processes.
-- Staff recommended that Policy BAA- Board's Theory of Action for Student Achievement remain on the table for further input. This proposed new policy articulates its theory of action for improving student achievement and effectuating its core beliefs and commitments about teaching and learning.

Citizens addressing the Board
-- Millie Linville, GUIDE