GCPS Board Meeting Summary for March 17, 2011

The following are highlights of the March 17, 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 schools
-- Parkview HS and Simpson ES, 2010 Georgia Schools of Excellence, were recognized by the School Board for outstanding achievement. The Georgia Schools of Excellence Program honors schools from each of the state’s 13 congressional districts. Elementary, middle, and high schools that are academically superior or demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement are recognized with awards. Schools are chosen in two categories: Top 10% and Greatest Gains, as measured by assessments in reading and mathematics. Parkview and Simpson tied for the 7th Congressional District honor for achieving in the top 10% of schools. Principals Bron Gayna Schmidt and David T. Smith accepted the Board's congratulations on behalf of their students, teachers, and communities.
-- The Board saluted three Gwinnett teams for 1st place finishes in the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Robotics State Championship. The Puckett's Mill ES Robotics Team took 1st Place in the Gracious Professional category. The Five Forks MS Robotics Team finished 1st in Overall Core Values. And, North Gwinnett MS took 1st Place in Teamwork. FLL introduces young people, ages 9 to 16 (grades 4-8), to the fun and excitement of science and technology while building self-confidence, knowledge, and valuable employment and life skills. FLL challenges kids to think like scientists and engineers. Alongside adult mentors, FLL team members solve problems using engineering concepts, presentation techniques, and robots. This year’s challenge was titled “Body Forward.” Teams explored the cutting-edge world of Biomedical Engineering to discover innovative ways to repair injuries, overcome genetic predispositions, and maximize the body’s potential, with the intended purpose of leading happier and healthier lives. Accompanying the team members from each school were robotics team coaches Mandy Collins of Puckett's Mill ES, Lisa McCreary of Five Forks MS, and Jonathan Roy of North Gwinnett MS.

Board approves changes to voluntary retirement savings plans
Board members approved amendments to the Plan Documents for the voluntary retirement savings plans as follows:
  • GCPS 403(b) Plan Document: Amended to enable automatic enrollment of all new employees into the Plan and offering of Roth accounts, effective July 1, 2011.
  • GCPS 457(b) Plan Document: Amended to enable offering of Roth accounts effective, July 1, 2011.
The United States Department of Treasury Regulations governing the administration of GCPS’ voluntary retirement savings plans – the 403(b) and the 457(b) plans – allow for employers to automatically enroll new employees in the plans provided certain conditions are met. The auto-enrollment option is becoming increasingly popular with both corporate and governmental employers as they seek ways to address the need for additional retirement savings, particularly among lower-paid employees and those who retire early or work only part of their careers with the employer. VALIC, as the GCPS plan administrator, would serve as the investment service provider under the auto-enrollment option. The regulations also authorize GCPS to offer both Roth and non-Roth savings accounts under the plans, to enable participating employees to select from a full range of choices with regard to the tax treatment of both contributions and withdrawals from the plans. This will not have a financial impact to GCPS as all plans are funded by employee voluntary contributions.

Board receives Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and Annual Investment Oversight Committee Report
The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) is prepared each year in accordance with standards set by the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) and the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO). It includes detailed financial information for the most recently completed fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2010. This annual report has been audited by the school district's external auditors, Mauldin and Jenkins. As required by Board policy, the Investment Oversight Committee submitted a formal report of findings to the Board. The Committee is composed of five members-- three from GCPS and two investment community members. The committee met quarterly to review investment transactions, compliance with existing policy and procedures, and compliance with Georgia code. For 2010, all transactions were in compliance with existing Board policy/procedures and Georgia code. The investment portfolio also met all policy standards required for diversification by instrument, maturity,and financial institution.

Chief Financial Officer Rick Cost provided members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education with a detailed report on both of these reports as part of the Board's afternoon work session, which included a business oversight workshop.
Gwinnett School Board pledges support for "A Vision for Public Education in Georgia"
The Gwinnett County Board of Education passed a resolution pledging to support the work embedded in “A Vision for Public Education in Georgia: Equity and Excellence.” In doing so, the Board shared its belief that Georgia needs a compelling, unified vision to improve significantly the education culture in our state and that the goal of every school district in Georgia is to provide a rewarding educational experience for all students. In addition, Board members expressed their support for the partnership between the Georgia School Boards Association and the Georgia School Superintendents Association which culminated in the development of this vision to transform public education. The Gwinnett County Board of Education will now determine areas of transformation for our district based on the "Vision" recommendations that will continue efforts to improve educational opportunities for all students.

Gwinnett Board approves changes to the AKS curriculum
The Gwinnett Educational Management System (GEMS) Oversight Committee held its annual meeting on February 24, 2011, to review and recommend changes to the Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) curriculum. During the afternoon worksession, Associate Superintendent Dale Robbins reviewed the GEMS meeting and the suggested revisions to the AKS, based on input received from educators and community members. Mr. Robbins shared that this was the 16th consecutive year that the GEMS Oversight Committee has met. The areas for review this year included fine arts, technical education, and the Mathematics of Finance course. In all, the committee reviewed 1,335 proposed AKS, endorsing 1,307 of them
BOE members selected to attend GSBA functions
Board members designated Dr. Mary Kay Murphy and Louise Radloff as its representative to the 2011 Georgia School Boards Association's Summer Conference and Delegate Assembly in Savannah, Georgia. This event is scheduled for June 17-18, 2011. In addition, Mrs. Radloff was tapped to serve on GSBA's Governmental Operations Committee, representing GCPS at the Committee meetings.

Gwinnett expresses appreciation to School Board members
March is traditionally the month for acknowledging the service of school board members in Georgia. On behalf of the students, parents, employees, and citizen stakeholders of Gwinnett County Public Schools, CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks recognized the exemplary governance and public service exhibited by the five members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education.

Citizens addressing the Board
Craig Lownes
Allison George
Angie O'Farrell
Dianne Ogden
Nancy Harris
Rae Saidman
Amanda Helmstetter
Jon Anderson
Lori Erwin
John Casey
John Karnowski
Chip Sweeney
Wayne Edwards