GCPS Board Meeting Summary for August 18, 2011

The following are highlights of the August 18, 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 recognizes students, staff, and schools
The Board of Education honored members of the Booster and Foundation Education Committee for their service to Gwinnett's schools. Specifically, the Board commended Dave Cook of Edward Jones; Steve Kosmala of IBM; Warren McClellan of McClellan, Allen & Associates, LLC, CPA; Michael Wetzel of Wetzel Mediation and Arbitration; and Mike Emery who serves as the Director of Athletics and Community Schools. The Committee, established in 2007, has worked to establish an education program to assist community and school leaders as they lead booster clubs and foundations that benefit schools and school systems. In addition to the work this committee has done in Gwinnett, its members have educated other groups including other Georgia school systems, the Georgia Music Educators Association, the National Athletic Directors Association, and other local education related non-profit organizations. In addition, Mr. McClellan was a leader in formation activities for the GCPS Foundation Fund, Inc. and continues to serve as a Trustee. Both Mr. McClellan and Mr. Kosmala have worked closely with the GCPS Foundation Fund in establishing Cluster Foundation Committee guidelines. Mr. Kosmala also assisted in the creation of the first comprehensive GCPS Volunteer Organization policy and procedure adopted by the Board in November 2010. In addition, Mr. Kosmala has been an active member of the Superintendent’s Council of Community Advisors since 2000.

- Seven Gwinnett elementary schools were recognized for their students' achievement on the Georgia Grade 5 Writing Assessment. In the category of “Mean Scaled Score”, Brookwood ES ranked 1st in the state, and was followed by Simpson ES and Camp Creek ES which were in a virtual tie for 2nd place. In the category of “Exceeds Percentage”, Simpson ES ranked 1st in the state edging out Brookwood ES which finished 2nd in the state. For percentage meeting and exceeding the standard, Parsons ES, Riverside ES, and New Life Academy all tied for 1st in the state with 100% passing averages. Puckett’s Mill ES and Camp Creek ES both tied for 2nd in the state with 99% of their 5th grade students meeting the passing standard for this assessment. The Board asked Principals Karen Head of Brookwood ES, Kathy Jones of Camp Creek ES, Dr. Charlotte Sadler of Parsons ES, Michelle Farmer of Puckett's Mill ES, Dr. Craig Barlow of Riverside ES, Bron Gayna Schmit of Simpson ES, and Dr. Alphonsa Foward of New Life Academy to pass along their congratulations to their respective staff members.

- The School Board applauded the efforts of Bradley Newton of Grayson HS on his 1st place finish in the nation in the Help Desk Competition at the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) National Leadership Conference which was held in Orlando this summer. As the 1st place winner, Bradley earned $700 and a trophy. FBLA is the largest student business organization in the world with more than 250,000 members. FBLA is an important partner in business education and student leadership development. The organization's mission is to bring business and education together in a positive working relationship through innovative leadership and career development programs. Principal David Hopson and Dr. Renee Smith, who serves as the FBLA Advisor at Grayson HS, accepted the Board's congratulations on Bradley's behalf as he was unable to attend the meeting.

- Board members congratulated the members of the North Gwinnett HS Air Force Junior ROTC unit on their designation as a "Distinguished Unit" for 2010-2011. This award recognizes Air Force Junior ROTC units that perform above and beyond normal expectations, and have distinguished themselves through outstanding service to their school and community while meeting the AFJROTC mission of producing better citizens for America. The objectives of the AFJROTC program are to educate and train high school cadets in citizenship and life skills, promote community service, instill responsibility, character, and self-discipline through character education, and to provide instruction in air and space fundamentals. Air Force Junior ROTC is located in 884 high schools across the United States and at selected schools in Europe, in the Pacific, and Puerto Rico. Junior ROTC enrollment includes more than 117,000 cadets. Major Bruce Bonds and Chief Michael Shannon were commended for their leadership and for their service to the students and to our country.

- The Board of Education saluted a team of Parkview HS students who placed first in the nation in music production at the 2011 National Technology Student Association (TSA) Conference in Grapevine, Texas. The Parkview team is comprised of members Ross Cunningham, Mizaan Pirani, Jordan Rosenthal, and Meh-Ki White. GCPS has 14 active TSA chapters which work with more than 1,000 students. Through TSA, students have the opportunity to participate in leadership development activities and compete in a variety of events related to technology. Accompanying these award-winning students were Principal David Smith and TSA Advisor Terry Cotton.

- Meadowcreek HS' Culinary Arts Team-- comprised of students Tyler Rivera, Nickholas Patma, and Vincent Tompkins-- earned kudos for their 2nd place finish at the national Family, Career, Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) competition. Founded in 1945, FCCLA is a dynamic and effective national student organization that helps young men and women become leaders and addresses important personal, family, work, and societal issues through family and consumer science education.  Chapter projects focus on a variety of youth concerns including teen pregnancy, parenting, family relationships, substance abuse, peer pressure, environment, nutrition and fitness, inter-generational communication and career education.  Involvement in FCCLA offers members the opportunity to expand their leadership potential and develop skills for life -- planning, goal setting, problem solving, decision making and interpersonal communication -- necessary in the home and workplace.  Students recognized tonight competed at the 2011 FCCLA National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, California from July 9-14, 2011. Tommy Welch, who is serving as interim principal, commended the team and its sponsor Debbie Grant, who now teaches at Maxwell HS. Mr. Welch thanked them for their commitment to excellence, saying that this national ranking spotlights a trio of talent.

- Board members honored Brookwood HS' Boys Tennis team on its 2011 state championship season. This is the sixth time the Brookwood team has earned the state championship. Principal Debra Dees, Athletics Director Mark Kimbro, and Head Coach Heath Hinton spoke highly of these student athletes and their accomplishments. Ms. Dees expressed her community's pride in this team and shared some of the history of their success. A Brookwood HS graduate, Mr. Hinton expressed his pride in the members of the team, citing the hard work and commitment that helped them achieve at the highest level.

- Parkview HS' Baseball team, which won their fourth state championship in 2011, also earned recognition from the Board. In describing the championship game and specifically the last inning of play Principal David Smith said that he didn't know that he has ever witnessed an inning like that. The team ultimately beat its opponent 21 to 10. Mr. Smith shared that it was a true team effort with players throughout the lineup contributing. Head Coach Chan Brown echoed Mr. Smith's comments about the state title being a total team effort and thanked the Board for its continued support.

Board authorizes contract negotiations for eCLASS initiative
The Board of Education authorized the superintendent to begin negotiations on a contract with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the purchase and implementation of software in conjunction with the district's eCLASS initiative. eCLASS is a digital Curriculum, Learning, Assessment, and Support System initiative that will provide the district with an integrated enterprise solution to enhance student engagement and the learning process. The first component of eCLASS will focus on instruction. Over the last few months, school district staff members have reviewed and tested a software application called Pinpoint. This product will be capable of meeting the school district's needs in the areas included in the instructional component. This is a cross-divisional initiative that will involve a number of areas within the district, including Information Management, Teaching and Learning Support, School Leadership and Operational Support, and Human Resources.

South Gwinnett HS and GCPS to participate in 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant
The Board of Education voted to accept a grant award in the amount of $272,610 in support of the South Gwinnett HS FUTURE afterschool program. The current grant award is for year one of a three-year grant that will support students who are not on track for graduation. The FUTURE program is a successful community partnership. Volunteers from three churches and other organizations in the community work with the high school to provide enrichment, recreation, supervision, and tutoring for students. The grant will support 150 at-risk students-- working to improve academic success of the students and the overall graduation success rate at South Gwinnett, to share the skills students will need as they enter work or begin postsecondary studies, and to provide a safe place to learn and interact after school hours. The grant will fund a program director and site managers, certified teachers for tutoring and credit recovery, recreational activities for students, parent support activities, and transportation home. Funding for years two and three of the grant will be determined by the success of the program during the first year.

Gwinnett School Board approves four-year training program
State law requires that local boards of education engage in mandatory yearly training as individual members and as a collective governing board. An annual plan for the required training must be developed and approved by the local board of education. The Gwinnett School Board approved its training plan, a plan that spans a time from May 2011 through December 2014. The four-year Board/Superintendent Team Development and Training Program will be submitted to the Georgia Department of Education.

Board continues updates to policies
The Board approved the following policy:
- Policy JBCB- Acceptance of Transfer Credits-- Changes to this policy aligned it with improvements in system processes.
- Policy FGB- Site Acquisition (Disposal)-- Changes to this policy aligned it with improvements in system processes.

The following policies have been tabled until next month's meeting to allow for public input:
- Policy JGC- Student Health Services-- Changes to this policy align it with improvements in system processes and with mandates in state and/or federal law.