GCPS Board Meeting Summary for October 21, 2010

The following are highlights of the October 21, 2010, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. Board members present included Chairman Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, Vice Chairman Dr. Robert McClure, Carole Boyce, Louise Radloff, and Daniel D. Seckinger. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.

Board honors award-winning students and staff
-- The Board meeting started with a video highlighting Gwinnett County Public Schools' recent designation as the 2010 winner of The Broad Prize for Urban Education. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined The Broad Foundation's Eli Broad to announce the winner. Gwinnett County Public Schools was selected by a bipartisan jury of eight prominent American leaders from government, education, business, and civic sectors, including three former U.S. secretaries of education. The $2 million Broad Prize is an annual award that honors the five large urban school districts that demonstrate the strongest student achievement and improvement while narrowing achievement gaps between income and ethnic groups. The money goes directly to graduating high school seniors for college scholarships. As this year's winner, GCPS earns a $1 million prize; the four finalists— Socorro Independent School District and Ysleta Independent School District, both located in Texas; Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina; and Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland— will each receive $250,000 in college scholarships.
-- The Gwinnett County Board of Education congratulated Gabby Bray, the social studies department chair at Gwinnett County Online Campus, on her recognition as runner-up in the SREB/iNACOL National Online Teacher of the Year competition. The winner for this award is selected from among the top candidates at 50 of the most prominent online-learning programs in the United States. Ms. Bray teaches a variety of social studies courses to online students in grades 9-12, including honors and college-preparatory courses. Ms. Bray was accompanied by Dr. Matthew Waymack, director of Online Campus. Dr. Waymack noted that Ms. Bray is one of the strongest online teachers with whom he has had an opportunity to work.
-- The Board recognized Parkview HS' Marine Junior ROTC unit for earning a Naval Honor School Award for the third consecutive year. JROTC units are selected by the Area Commander for attaining the highest overall rating during the school year. Subsequently, these units are designated Naval Honor Schools by the Commanding General Training and Education Command in Quantico, Va. This designation is given to 20 percent of the JROTC units in the nation in recognition of a unit's exemplary performance during the Area Commander's inspection and in the areas of drill competitions, community service, and marksmanship competitions. The JROTC unit also must demonstrate excellence in unit administration, training, supply, facilities, armory management, cadet citizenship, school and community involvement, scholastic achievement, and extracurricular events according to Training and Education Command guidelines. Parkview HS' unit was designated as national champion in Orienteering and the state champion in Marine Corps Drill Competitions. Members of the unit also received two appointments to the U.S. Naval Academy and five ROTC scholarships, and the Rifle Team qualified for state and national competitions... all of these things were achieved while the unit averaged 40 hours of community service per cadet. Jody Reeves, director of Technical Education, Computer Science, and Work-Based Learning, introduced this recognition. Accompanying the unit's officers were Principal David Smith; Major and Senior Marine Instructor Ron Tootle, USMC retired; and Gunnery Sergeant and Marine Instructor Dave Erwin, USMC retired.

Board adopts FY12 budget calendar
The Board of Education adopted the calendar of activities and dates associated with adoption of the FY2012 budget.
The Board and staff reserve certain critical dates relating to the budget on their 2011 calendar. This adoption allows everyone ample time to schedule those dates. The State requires a new budget be adopted each year prior to July 1. However, for operational purposes, the district must adopt a new budget by the regular Board meeting date in May. Click here for a copy of the FY12 budget calendar.

GCPS celebrates Constitution Day
Dr. Debbie Daniell, director of Social Studies, provided the Board of Education with a review of district activities commemorating Constitution Day during the week of September 13-17, 2010. Dr. Daniell shared examples of Constitution Day activities around the county.

Gwinnett earns $1.4 million Teaching American History Grant
Dr. Daniell also shared the news that the school district is the recipient of a Teaching American History Grant. This grant, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, supports programs that raise student achievement by improving teachers' knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of American History. The Teaching American History Grant program improves teachers understanding of American history through intensive professional development, including study trips to historic sites and mentoring with professional historians and other experts. Under Dr. Daniell’s leadership, GCPS is using the grant to create, implement, and fund the Gwinnett County Public Schools Teaching American History (TAH) Project— American History: Examining Years of Economic Strides The program will encourage critical thinking and historical investigation into central themes and concepts in American history through the lens of economics. It will help teachers gain a better understanding of how to apply economic analysis and reasoning to the events taught in their traditional American history courses. Over the course of the five-year grant, the district will receive $1,428,320.

District pilots FITNESSGRAM tool
Gwinnett County Public Schools is one of five districts in the state piloting the FITNESSGRAM health data collection tool, collecting data regarding student fitness levels. Students are assessed in these areas of health-related fitness: cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition. This pilot came about as a result of HB229, often referred to as the SHAPE (Student Health and Physical Education) bill, passed by the Georgia Legislature last year. While Gwinnett has used the FITNESSGRAM tool for a number of years, HB229 calls for this type of data to be collected by schools statewide. The assessment includes a variety of health-related physical fitness tests that are used to determine a student's overall fitness. The new law calls for this information to be reported to parents. The SHAPE program is supported by the Governor's Office, the Health Department, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and the Arthur Blank Foundation. School systems in Bibb, Hall, Lowndes, and White counties also are participating in the FITNESSGRAM pilot.

BOE approves legislative priorities for 2011
Each year, the Gwinnett County Board of Education communicates with the Gwinnett Delegation to the General Assembly those issues of critical importance to the funding and effective operation of Gwinnett County Public Schools. The 2011 Legislative Program summarizes the continuing positions and state funding improvement requests that the Board wishes to bring to the delegation for consideration in the upcoming session of the General Assembly. These adopted priorities will be posted on the district's website. On December 7, the Board will meet with members of the Gwinnett Delegation to review the district's legislative agenda.

Board continues updates to policies
The Board approved the following policy which had been tabled at the September meeting to allow for public input:
Policy JGFA- Restraint-- This new policy was created to reflect improvements in system processes and mandates in state and/or federal law.

In addition, the Board tabled the following policy to allow for public input prior to its November 18 meeting:
Policy JGFA- Use of Force-- This proposed new policy has been created to reflect improvements in system processes.
Policy JGFA- Volunteer Organizations-- This proposed new policy has been created to reflect improvements in system processes.

Board members to participate in GSBA and NSBA programs
The Board of Education authorized Board member District 5 Board Member Louise Radloff to represent the Gwinnett County Board at the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) Legislative Liaison Network to help communicate the Board's perspective on legislative issues to the members of the Georgia General Assembly. Mrs. Radloff will attend the one-day 2011 GSBA Advocacy Workshop in Macon, Georgia, on November 8, 2010. Dr. Mary Kay Murphy was tapped to represent the Board at the 2011 National School Boards Association's Federal Relations Network Conference in Washington, D.C., set for February 6-8, 2011. The Federal Relations Network Conference is attended by school board members from around the nation. This conference provides for local input concerning America's education agenda, as well as the opportunity to have discussions on key issues with members of Congress and the administration.

Citizens addressing the Board
William Smith