GCPS Board Meeting Summary for June 19, 2008

The following are highlights of the June 19, 2008, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. Board members present included Chairman Carole Boyce, Vice Chairman Daniel D. Seckinger, Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, Dr. Robert McClure, and Louise Radloff. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.

-- The Gwinnett County Board of Education recognized seven of 14 graduating seniors with 13 years of perfect attendance… kindergarten through 12th grade. The students include Derick Heilman of Brookwood HS, Victoria Virgil of Grayson HS, Justin Johnson of Meadowcreek HS, Matthew Just of Mill Creek HS, Will Tran of Parkview HS, Mi Seon Park of Peachtree Ridge HS, and Richard Shepherd of South Gwinnett HS. The other graduates with perfect attendance will be invited to attend a Board meeting later in the summer.
-- Board members saluted Yuanrui "Serena" Zhang of Duluth HS on her achievement on the four-part Georgia High School Graduation Tests (GHSGT). Miss Zhang achieved a perfect score on each of the GHSGT subtests-- Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. All students seeking a Georgia high school diploma must pass the GHSGT as well as the Georgia High School Writing Test. Gwinnett graduates also must pass the High School Gateway writing.
-- Kudos to the North Gwinnett HS Robotics Team on its achievements in the recent US FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition. The team participated in regional competition at the Gwinnett Civic Center in March, finishing the highest of any Gwinnett team and second-highest of any team from Georgia. In addition, the team won the Delphi Corporation’s “Innovation in Technology” award for the most innovative technological approach to the contest. An invitation was extended to participate in the National Championships, which were held in the Georgia Dome in April. North Gwinnett's team excelled in that competition as well. It was the highest-finishing team from Georgia and won the “Creativity Award” from the Xerox Corporation. This award recognizes one team for the most creative thinking and design of an effective solution to the challenge. Team members include Kyle Buice, Twesh Deshetty, Joe Evans, Dorian Henao, Pentti Kimari, Shani Letoha, Zohaib Maya, Shenna Patel, Casey Price, Austin Shenk, Ryan Shenk, Michael Spencer, Logan Stubbs, Luke Stubbs, Christopher Wilson, Jeffrey Angell, Michelle Kim, and Gene Ziller. Michael Reilly is the instructor and team sponsor of the North Gwinnett HS team. The team's robot was presented to the Board during the recognition. Mr. Reilly thanked Jody Reeves, GCPS' Technical Education director, for her support of the program. He also expressed appreciation to corporate sponsors and mentors for their gifts of time, expertise, and support. Mr. Reilly noted that the teams from Peachtree Ridge HS and Norcross HS also contributed to the success of the team as it moved ahead in competition, and he looks forward to continued collaboration with Gwinnett teams in the future.
-- The School Board honored Duncan Creek ES' 5th Grade Continental Math League Team for winning 1st place in the nation in the Euclidean Division. Continental Math League is a timed problem-solving competition which allows students to compete with other students on the same grade level from schools all over the United States. The competition is made up five tests given during the school day at various times throughout the year. Each test is 30 minutes and has six questions. The top six scores from each school for each test are sent to the Continental Math League Office in New York. Duncan Creek team members include Rocco Amorosso, Rachel Stacks, Ethan LoCicero, Evin Miller, Megan Welch, Allan Eason, Dannie Houston, Will Jackson, Maddie Jones, Austin Mead, and Austin Mitchell. The teacher advisor is Wendy Lutz.
-- School Board members recognized Trickum MS and its Odyssey of the Mind Team on its 1st place finish in state and region competition and for qualifying for the second year in a row for the World Finals. The team built a balsa wood structure that weighed just 18 grams. At the Georgia competition, the structure held a total of 580 pounds (170 pounds more than the structure built by the 2nd place team) and held 635 pounds at the World Finals at the University of Maryland in June. Team members include Ben Kim, Anup Chandora, Zain Sharif, Amy Newberry, Alexis Ghulam, Zanir Malani, and Uzair Malan. Linda LaPerre served as the Odyssey of the Mind team sponsor and Kane and Wook Kim were the parent-coaches.
-- Trickum MS also earned kudos from the Board of Education for its Academic Team's 2nd place finish in the 2008 PAGE Academic Bowl for Middle Schools. More than 2,000 students throughout Georgia participated in this year's competition. Teams comprised of five players went head-to-head, answering questions on subjects ranging from Georgia history, math, and science to literature, current events, and fine arts. Team members include Sam Gowland, Parker Sanford, Scarlett Horner, Stanley David, Evan Dickinson, Dillon Kasson, Julian Menzel, Anchen Yao, and Yikan Ge. Coaches Linda LaPerre and Cary Sell accompanied the honorees. The Trickum team competed at the county and regional levels before advancing to the semi-finals and finals in the PAGE competition. Mr. Sell noted that the toughest competition is at the county and region levels and that Gwinnett is well represented in middle school academic competition, with the academic team from Duluth MS placing 3rd in the state event.

Board renews GUIDE agreement to continue offering substance abuse prevention programs
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 22nd year that GUIDE has served Gwinnett’s need for a substance abuse prevention agency.

Millennium Scholars Academy charter school application denied
The Gwinnett County Board of Education voted to deny the application by Millennium Scholars Academy (MSA) for a start-up charter school. The Gwinnett Charter School Review Committee reviewed the application of the school proposed to open in August 2009 and determined that the MSA charter application was out of compliance with some state and local policies, rules, and/or procedures. Deficiencies were noted in the school's proposed educational program, state and federally mandated services, school operations, and finance. The application also did not meet GCPS requirements regarding technology infrastructure, student health, legal counsel, and summer remediation. The petitioners for MSA have the option to take their application to the state to receive a state charter or may reapply with the Gwinnett County Board of Education. The Gwinnett County Board of Education has approved two charter schools to date-- the New Life Academy of Excellence, Inc., and Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology.

Board approves amendment to New Life Academy of Excellence charter application
New Life Academy of Excellence, Inc., submitted an amendment to its charter petition in regard to special education components of the charter school application that was approved by GCPS' Board of Education in May 2006. Currently, the school serves nine students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). The school has requested that its current charter be amended, partnering the school with Gwinnett County Public Schools' Special Education department to provide more effective service for its students with special needs. In return for the district's support of these students, New Life Academy of Excellence will remit to the school district its FTE earnings for these special needs students.

Board completes Gateway Review
Of the 42,115 Gwinnett 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th graders required to pass the 2008 Gateway tests, the vast majority earned passing scores on the first try and will be promoted to the next grade level. However, 336 students did not do as well on these assessments as would be expected, based on their classroom grades. For these students, the district's Assessment Review Procedure was initiated and acted on by the Board. After a thorough review, Board members approved the following recommendations:
  • Waive passage of this year’s Gateway and promote to the next grade-- 64 students;
  • Waive passage of this year’s Gateway, promote to the next grade, but recommend summer school-- 228 students; and
  • Do not waive passage of this year’s Gateway, recommend summer school, and require Gateway retest and passage for promotion-- 44 students.
In making these determinations, Board members took into account the student's scores, classroom performance as documented by the child's teacher(s), other assessment information, and evidence provided by the family of extenuating circumstances that could have caused the student to perform poorly on the test.

School Board continues its policy work
School Board members tabled the following policies to allow for further input:
Policy EG- Risk Management and Insurance-- Changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.
Policy IFBD- School Media Programs and Patron Privacy-- This proposed new policy has been created to reflect improvements in system processes and mandates in state and/or federal law.

Citizens addressing the Board
- June Townsend