GCPS Board Meeting Summary for May 8, 2008

The following are highlights of the May 8, 2008, 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.

School Board recognizes students, staff, and community members
-- CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks thanked members of the Superintendent's Council of Community Advisors (SCCA) for their service this school year. Woody Woodruff serves as chairman of the SCCA.
-- The Board saluted Dr. John Green— principal of North Gwinnett HS and a 2008 Georgia Distinguished High School Principal. Dr. Green, a veteran educator, is one of seven high school principals in the state so honored by the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals (GASSP). Based on statewide nominations, the honored principals are recognized as having demonstrated exemplary performance as a school leader through innovative strategies in their schools, modeling extraordinary service to their schools, communities, and profession.
-- Five Gwinnett students were recognized by the School Board as state-level winners in Reflections, the annual fine arts competition sponsored by the PTA. The honored students include Derek Vann, a 10th grader at Norcross HS, for his musical composition; Justin Thongsouk, a Duncan Creek ES 4th grader, in the musical composition category; Kindergartner Hannah Hu of Chattahoochee ES for her musical composition; Weston Bell, a 3rd grader at Simpson ES, for a film/video production; and Lanier MS 8th grader Michael Park in the category of Visual Arts. Angela Monetta, co-president of the Gwinnett County Council of PTAs, congratulated the students on their achievement. The students were first recognized at the local and system levels before advancing to district and state competition. Three of the students also were recognized at the national level in which 13 Georgia students were honored. Justin's composition won a National Award of Merit, his second national recognition from the PTA. Michael was honored with the National Award of Merit for his artwork. Derek won a National Award of Excellence, the highest award in the National Reflections program.
-- School Board members recognized a number of students and teachers as 2008 Atlanta Toyota Scholarship recipients. This scholarship program, which began in 2004, seeks to recognize one outstanding senior from each Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) high school. The winning seniors select the Gwinnett teacher who most inspired them during their education. Each winning student received a scholarship check in the amount of $2,000. In addition, each winning teacher receives a check for $1,000. Over the years, the program has provided nearly $200,000 in college scholarships and $75,000 in teacher rewards. Of great significance has been the support for public education demonstrated by community merchant, Atlanta Toyota Scion, and this very public “thank you” to teachers. This year's recipients are:
- Student Shanise Lawrence, Berkmar HS; Most Inspiring Teacher Alicia Webb, Berkmar HS
- Student Andrew Faust, Brookwood HS; Most Inspiring Teacher Libby Atwell, Brookwood HS
- Student Princy Kuriakose, Central Gwinnett HS; Most Inspiring Teacher Bruce Young, Central Gwinnett HS
- Student Moiez Ali, Collins Hill HS; Most Inspiring Teacher Laura Herbig, Collins Hill HS
- Student Olivia Boyce, Dacula HS; Most Inspiring Teacher Heather Young, Dacula HS
- Student Albert Liao, Duluth HS; Most Inspiring Teacher Linda Koch, Duluth MS
- Student Spencer Brady, Grayson HS; Most Inspiring Teacher Veronica Crawford, Grayson HS
- Student Adan Phun, Meadowcreek HS; Most Inspiring Teacher Dr. Marietta Malone, Meadowcreek HS
- Student Brandi Turner, Mill Creek HS; Most Inspiring Teacher Dr. Lori Bowen, Mill Creek HS
- Student Stephanie Swart, Norcross HS; Most Inspiring Teacher Angela Cronon, Norcross HS
- Student Shanyce Harris, North Gwinnett HS; Most Inspiring Teacher Tamaiko Chappell, North Gwinnett HS
- Student Adaku Egwuonwu, Parkview HS; Most Inspiring Teacher Jennifer Newton, Parkview HS
- Student Sarah Vakili, Peachtree Ridge HS; Most Inspiring Teacher Luann Kosa, Richard Hull MS
- Student Heather Taylor, Phoenix HS; Most Inspiring Teacher Denise Hartzell, Phoenix HS
- Student Nikkitta Sutton, Shiloh HS; Most Inspiring Teacher Arthur Grant, Jr., Annistown ES
- Student Ethan Landress, South Gwinnett HS; Most Inspiring Teacher Donna Rothell, South Gwinnett HS
-- The School Board members recognized Andrea Hofius of Brookwood 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.
-- The Board also honored Robin Lloyd, a senior at Meadowcreek HS, on her 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. Gwinnett Federal Credit Union (GFCU) established this fund in 2004 in honor of Mrs. Radloff's three decades of service on the Gwinnett County Board of Education.
-- Last year, Marshall Boutwell, president/CEO of Gwinnett Federal Credit Union, came before the Board and announced that GFCU intended to add a new scholarship to honor CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks, in recognition of his more than 40-plus years of distinguished service to the field of education. Tyler Rogers of Brookwood HS is the first-ever recipient of the J. Alvin Wilbanks Teaching Scholarship, a $2,000 scholarship to be awarded annually to a distinguished GCPS graduating senior with a demonstrated desire to enter the teaching profession.
-- The Board of Education saluted the Brookwood HS Boys Swim and Dive Team, this year's AAAAA state champion. This is the first championship for the Brookwood boys’ team. The team was coached by Head Coach Greg Puckett, with assistance from Susan Weber. In addition, Coach Puckett was named 2008 State Coach of the Year for Boys Swim and Dive. He pointed out the dominance of Gwinnett teams in state competition. Brookwood's win is the ninth straight state championship for Gwinnett teams in Boys Swim and Dive.
-- Members of the Norcross HS Boys Basketball Team were honored on their “three-peat” state championship season. There has not been another high school team since 1940 that has won three straight championships in the largest state classification for Boys Basketball. The 2008 AAAAA state champions were led to their third state win in a row by Coach Eddie Martin. Assisting Coach Martin were Greg Phillips, Keenan Temple, Jesse McMillan, and Brent Martin. Coach Martin presented a plaque to Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, District 3 Board member, for her continued support of the school's basketball program.
-- School Board members celebrated the academic and athletic accomplishments of Ryan Smith of Parkview HS, recently named 2008 High School Scholar Athlete of the Year by the Atlanta Sports Council. The group honors recipients living in the 29-county Metro Atlanta area who have distinguished themselves in and out of the sporting arena. Recipients include athletes from professional sports teams, universities, junior colleges, and private and public high schools. Dr. Charles "Buck" Buchanan and Basketball Coach Tim Watkins noted Ryan's many academic and athletic honors and accomplishments. He will attend Harvard in the fall.
-- The Board of Education congratulated the Simpson ES Continental Math League Team for its first-place win in state competition. The 12-member team of 5th graders also took top honors for the 11-state region. Continental Math League is a problem-solving competition that allows students to compete with other students on the same grade level from schools all over the United States. The competition is made up of five tests given during the school day at various times throughout the year. Each test is 30 minutes and has six questions. All students can participate. The top six scores from each school for each test are sent to the Continental Math League. Principal Bron Gayna Schmit also noted that the team placed seventh in the nation.
-- Soo Kim of Collins Hill HS was honored by the Board for her first-place finish in the state and designation as Best of Show in the Junior Duck Stamp Contest, sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Game Department. Miss Kim’s artwork, judged to be the best among 591 entries, will be on exhibition in Washington, D.C. Her art teachers, Catherine Vatalaro and Karen Campbell, accompanied Miss Kim, along with Principal Glenn McFall.
-- Art also was the focus for the Board in recognizing national Gold and Silver Award winners in The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, sponsored by Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, Inc. Daniel Bailey of Collins Hill HS is a Gold Award winner for his drawing, “Toe to Toe.” Sidney Copeland of North Gwinnett HS is a Silver Award winner for her digital imagery, entitled “Bleachers.” Kari Loomis, also a North Gwinnett HS student, is a Silver Award winner for her computer art work, “Lend a Helping Hand to the Environment.” Phoenix HS student Luis Nava is a Silver Award winner for his digital imagery, “Night Sanctuary.” All students were accompanied by their principals and art teachers.
-- A team of Parkview HS students was saluted on its first-place finish in the Metro-Atlanta WorldQuest Competition, held at Georgia State University and sponsored by the Southern Center for International Studies. The winning team of William Tran, Ian Nurse, Sam Kim, and Mehreen Iqbal advanced to the national finals in Washington, D.C. In a three-day weekend competition, sponsored by the World Affairs Council, the team competed against students from around the country. Academic WorldQuest is a team competition that tests students' knowledge of international affairs, geography, history, culture, and current events. Topics this year included international law, UN peacekeeping organizations, worldwide elections, Great Decisions articles, and people in the news. This is the second year that a Parkview HS team has represented Georgia in national WorldQuest competition. Teams from Mill Creek HS and Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology rounded out the top three spots in the state. Parkview HS social studies teacher Regina Loveridge was the team's coach.
-- The School Board expressed appreciation to Rodney Wayne, health and wellness teacher at W.C. Britt ES, for his leadership in the area of promoting healthy activities and healthy choices for students. Mr. Wayne and 5th graders Ryan Pike and Tatiana Wayne recently served as ambassadors to Connect With Congress, an event sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Last summer, W.C. Britt ES was one of 26 elementary schools in the country to be honored with the Healthy Alliance Award for its wellness and fitness programs. As a result of that honor, Mr. Wayne and the two students were invited to the event to discuss their ideas with congressional representatives. Ryan and Tatiana wrote winning essays to earn their spots as ambassadors.
-- Twenty-four GCPS students were 1st or 2nd place winners in statewide events in the areas of business, computer science, family and consumer science, career and technical, and technology education. They earned recognition out of thousands of students throughout the state, with many qualifying to participate at the next level of competition in their respective categories.
Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) honored these Gwinnett students…
Briana Church and Sara Rodezno, both of Meadowcreek HS, First Place in Focus on Children (Team) - Occupational Category; First Place in Focus on Children - Occupational Category; Allie Peterson and Meghan Bowden, both Peachtree Ridge HS, Second Place in Applied Technology (Team) - Senior Category; Gabby Hotac and Kenady Pitts, both of Berkmar HS, Second Place in Interior Design (Team) - Senior Category; Yuridia Andrade of Meadowcreek HS, Second Place in Career Investigation - Senior Category; Mariam Mirzoyan of Duluth HS, Second Place in Career Investigation - Senior Category; and Christina Chang of Peachtree Ridge HS, Second Place in Job Interview - Senior Category.
FCCLA is the national career and technical student organization for young men and women in Family and Consumer Sciences education. Since 1945, FCCLA members have been making a difference in their families, careers and communities by addressing important personal, work, and societal issues through family and consumer sciences education.
Award-winning participants in the state's SkillsUSA competition include…
Nathan Kodilla of the Grayson HS Technical Education Program, First Place in Computer Programming; Sam Rogers of Maxwell HS of Technology, First Place in Collision Repair; Zack Meanor of Maxwell HS of Technology, First Place in Electronics Technology; Jhonathan Moreno of Maxwell HS of Technology, First Place in Job Skill Demo Open; Karolyn Michaels of Maxwell HS of Technology, First Place in Practical Nursing; Rebekah Phillips of Maxwell HS of Technology, First Place in Preschool Teaching Assistant; Ancelet Abraham of Maxwell HS of Technology, First Place in Technical Computer Apprentice; Brianne Gould of Maxwell HS of Technology, Second Place in Customer Service; Carlos Escandon of Maxwell HS of Technology, Second Place in Electronics Applications; Anna Plemedyale of Maxwell HS of Technology, Second Place in Medical Terminology; Karishma Rajani of Maxwell HS of Technology, Second Place in Nurse Assisting; Desiree Gant of Maxwell HS of Technology, Second Place in Web Site Design; Trevor Goodyear of the Grayson HS Technical Education Program, Second Place in Computer Maintenance Technology; John Hudgins of the Grayson HS Technical Education Program, Second Place in Computer Applications; and Ashley Jackson of the Grayson HS Technical Education Program, Second Place in Culinary Arts.
SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers, and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled work force. SkillsUSA is a national, nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations.
-- Members of the BETA Team from Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology were congratulated by the Board for taking first place in the Georgia FIRST Tech Challenge Championship. The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge is an intermediate robotics competition that focuses on providing an affordable and accessible opportunity to participate in a robotics event and creates a bridge between the FIRST Lego League and the FIRST Robotics Competition. Students work together in teams of 10 to use a modular robotics platform to design and build robots to compete in FIRST-designed games. This “rookie” team of 9th graders used various structural materials, motors, gears, wheels, tank treads, motor controllers, microcomputers, transmitters, receivers, and computer programming to equip the robot to complete various tasks and win the event. Team members are David Cox, Tanzim Milkey, Jack Ridderhof, Kirsten Lim, Kenneth Wang, Luke Richardson, John Raghu, Steven Keyes, and Daniel Keyes. They were coached by Dr. Chuck Lockert, engineering instructor.
-- The Meadowcreek HS Culinary Team won the 2008 Georgia ProStart Culinary Arts Competition and represented Georgia in national competition in San Diego last month. The Board of Education honored the five-member team for its hard work and achievement. Student chefs are Camly Nguyen, Evelyn Narvaez, Sandra Clavijo, Marisol Leal, and Linh Nguyen. Principal Bob Jackson described the award-winning menu, cooked on two camp stoves in just an hour. He also thanked Richard Hurst, Executive Chef at Lenbrook in Buckhead, and his wife Aixa (who also is a chef and graduate of Meadowcreek High), who served as the team's mentors. The Compass Group (which owns Lenbrook) and Lenbrook itself have donated almost $9,000 toward funding the students' trip to California and also have established a chef internship program with Meadowcreek to mentor future chefs. The state competition was sponsored by The Hospitality Education Foundation of Georgia (HEFG), a non-profit organization that provides industry mentors and sponsors a rigorous and challenging competition each year. Students obtain valuable hotel, restaurant, and food service skills through classroom training and on-the-job experiences. In particular, the Meadowcreek students were recognized for demonstrating outstanding industry-based skills during both the state and national competitions. Debbie Grant is culinary instructor for Meadowcreek HS.

System celebrates the Class of 2008
Associate Superintendent Bobby Crowson presented an annual report on Gwinnett County Public Schools’ graduating seniors, indicating that, as of April, nearly 8,500 students were on track to graduate from GCPS’ 16 high schools in graduation exercises that begin May 20 with Phoenix HS and will conclude when the last North Gwinnett HS graduates walks the stage on May 24. The Class of 2008 continues a GCPS tradition, with the vast majority of graduates headed for college in the fall. About 89 percent of expected 2008 graduates report plans to attend college or postsecondary school. To date, graduating seniors have been than offered more than $88 million in academic, athletic, and military scholarships, a figure more than $17 million higher than last year. Nearly 60 percent of that amount-- $51 million-- comes from academic scholarships. This amount does not include awards under the HOPE Scholarship Program. In addition, a record 27 military academy appointments account for more than $7.4 million in scholarships.

School Board renews partnership with county with joint-use agreement
The Gwinnett County Board of Education annually renews its agreement with the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners concerning the operation of the Community Schools Program and the use of school system facilities for activities conducted by the county's Parks and Recreation Department. The agreement has been in place since 1978. The Board approved the Community Schools and Joint Use Agreement for July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2009.

Extracurricular and co-curricular achievements reviewed
GCPS students are some of the most accomplished young people in the state, a fact that was certainly in evidence in a summary of the High School Athletics Participation and Achievement Awards and Fine Arts Awards earned by Gwinnett students in a report given by Robert Andrews, Director of Fine Arts; and Mike Emery, Director of Athletics, Community Schools, and Extracurricular Activities. Since 2005-06, teams from GCPS have earned 86 state championships in athletics, with 97 students crowned as individual state champions to date. In addition, GCPS students hold 17 state records in swimming and track. This school year, nearly 13,000 students participated in Gwinnett athletic programs. In a review of the fine arts, since 2005-06, a total of 83 fine arts students have been finalists for the state's Governor's Honors Program. Marching bands have earned 52 state awards during that same time period and 658 students have achieved all-state recognition in band, chorus, or orchestra, with a total of 152 state and national awards in fine arts. Nearly 20,000 students in Gwinnett participated in fine arts in 2007-08.During the past three years, on average, 72.3 percent of high school students in Gwinnett have participated in either athletics or the fine arts.

FY09 budget approved
The Board of Education adopted the Fiscal Year 2009 budget in the total expenditure amount of $1,859,403,295 as recommended by CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks and tentatively adopted by the Board on April 22. As required by law, the budget was advertised in the local paper and two hearings were held to solicit public input. The Board conducted public hearings May 5 and 8, prior to approving the budget.

Board tentatively adopts millage rate for FY09
After officially approving the $1.85 billion budget for the 2008-09 school year, School Board members took the next step in the budget process by tentatively adopting a millage rate of 19.25 mills for maintenance and operations and 1.30 mills for debt service to support the FY2009 budget. The millage rate is scheduled to be set on June 9, 2008.
Upcoming Budget-related dates include:
June 2 7 p.m. First public hearing on millage rate, Board Room at the Instructional Support Center (ISC)
June 9 11:45 a.m. Second public hearing on millage rate, Board Room at the ISC
June 9 7 p.m. Third public hearing on millage rate and adoption of final millage rate, Board Room at the ISC

Board accepts recommendation to name Parkview HS field for retiring athletic director
Acting on behalf of the school and community, Dr. Charles Buchanan, principal of Parkview HS, requested that the stadium field on the campus of Parkview HS be named “Karl Bostick Field.” Retiring Athletic Director Karl Bostick has an impressive list of athletic accomplishments during the 25 years that he has been at the school. During his tenure as the Athletic Director, Parkview teams have won 43 State Championships, including 11 State Championships in the sports that he has coached at Parkview. In 2005, Sports Illustrated selected Parkview HS as having the seventh-best athletic program in the nation. The Parkview HS Local School Council voted unanimously to request the Board's approval for the naming of the field. A dedication ceremony is planned for the near future.

School Board approves pricing, GBO issuance with Final Bond Resolution
In other financial news, the Board approved the Final Bond Resolution to approve the pricing and issuance of the General Obligation Bonds, Series 2008, authorized by the voters on February 5, 2008. Recent news that GCPS has received the highest possible bond ratings— triple-A (AAA)— from the nation’s two leading rating agencies is evidence of the district’s stellar financial stewardship and has an impact on the new bonds to be issued. Taxpayers will benefit from the lowest interest rates possible on the sale of GCPS' bonds, which translates into a benefit for students as more money will be available to build classrooms. Currently, there are 23 school districts rated triple-A by Moody’s and 28 rated at the highest level by S&P. Gwinnett was the first system in Georgia to earn this financial distinction, and remains the only large system in the nation to have a triple-A rating. Additionally, it is one of only five districts nationwide to hold the triple-A rating from both Moody’s and S&P.

School Board continues its policy work
School Board members approved the following policies which were tabled at the April meeting to allow for further input:
Policy BAB- District Key Performance Indicators-- This proposed new policy has been created to ensure the establishment of a “data dashboard,” which will assist the Board and public-at-large to monitor key indicators of district performance, including student achievement, district operations, and stakeholder satisfaction.
Policy IA- Academic Accountability-- This proposed new policy has been created to ensure that a comprehensive accountability system is implemented that focuses on student achievement and district performance.
Policy IHFB- Graduation Requirements- Students Entering Ninth Grade in 2008-09 and Subsequent School Years-- This new policy has been created to reflect improvements in system processes and mandates in state and/or federal law.
Policy GAD- Staff Development-- The proposed revisions to this policy ensure that a comprehensive staff development plan exists, which will guide the development of leaders, teachers, and support staff and will provide the opportunity for all personnel to acquire the relevant knowledge, skills, and expertise they need to perform their work to consistently high standards.
Policy IHFA- Graduation Requirements- Graduating Classes of 2006-2011-- The title of this policy has been changed from “Graduation Requirements” and the descriptor code has been changed from IHF. Changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes and with mandates in state and/or federal law.
Policy JCD- Student Conduct Behavior Code-- Changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.
Policy KM- Visitors to Schools-- Changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.

Citizens addressing the Board
-- John Hennelly, Lacrosse Booster Club