GCPS Board Meeting Summary for September 14, 2006

The following are highlights of the September 14, 2006, 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.

Board recognizes students and staff members
-- School Board members saluted Dr. LaVern Watkins, Norcross ES Principal, and former Knight ES Principal, Dr. Burrelle Meeks, on their state recognition as High Performance Principals. Governor Sonny Perdue announced the names of individuals who were identified as "High Performance Principals," as defined by SB 468, which was passed and funded during the last session of the General Assembly. This grant program is designed to encourage those recognized to become principals in secondary "Needs Improvement" schools, but it also serves as an opportunity to recognize and honor the individual and collective achievements of these high-performing educators. Four other Gwinnett principals-- Jane Stegall of Brookwood HS, Kathy Jones of Camp Creek ES, Vivian Stranahan of Shiloh ES, and Lynne Davis of Trickum MS-- were honored at the July School Board meeting.
-- Linda Liu, a Parkview HS student, recently scored a perfect 36 on the ACT college-admissions test. She is one of only two Georgia students to achieve this honor from among the more than 25,000 students in Georgia who participated in the April 2006, test administration. Nationally, only 67 students scored a perfect 36. ACT is an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides more than 100 assessment, research, information, and program management services in the broad areas of education and the workforce.
-- Congratulations to two of the school system's ROTC units on their recognition as "Distinguished Units." Both the North Gwinnett HS Air Force Junior ROTC Unit and the Shiloh HS Air Force Junior ROTC unit were honored by the Department of the Air Force. The Distinguished Unit Award recognizes the personal growth and accomplishments of the cadets, the contributions of the instructors as mentors to the cadets, and the support of the school and community. The Distinguished Unit Award is limited to the best of the best of the nation's 794 Air Force Junior ROTC units. The North Gwinnett unit is led by Major Bruce Bonds and Master Chief Sergeant Mike Shannon, and the instructors for the Shiloh unit are Chief T.J. Held and Major Lourdes Trujillo.

Report indicates Americans support public schools
Recently, PDK/Gallup Poll released results from its annual poll measuring the Public's Attitudes Toward Public Schools. The poll gauges participants' reactions on national and local education issues and trends. Like many other reports, this one indicates that Americans are more supportive of their local schools and school systems than national efforts to reform education. So, how do Americans feel about their local schools?

  • Five in 10 Americans give their neighborhood public school a grade of A or B.
  • When asked where efforts should be focused to improve education, 71% of those surveyed say that they prefer improvement to come through the existing public school system, rather than through an alternative system.
  • In fact, the public is consistent in this view, with 60% opposing the use of public funds for children to attend private schools and 69% opposing contracting out to private companies the operation of local school systems.
  • Ironically, five in 10 favor the idea of charter schools, and that percentage is increasing. However, at least half of those surveyed had misconceptions about charter schools.
What about federal education initiatives?
  • Although six in 10 Americans believe the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act has had no effect or a negative effect on schools, there is widespread support for the law's goals.
  • Eight in 10 do not believe a test in English and math only can give a fair picture of a school, and eight in 10 are concerned that NCLB's focus on these two subjects will mean less emphasis on other subjects.
When it comes to higher standards...
  • Nine in 10 Americans believe it is important to close the achievement gap.
  • Seven in 10 support requiring all high school students to complete four years of mathematics.
  • Six in 10 support a college-preparatory curriculum for all students.
In an open-ended question, one in four Americans identified lack of financial support as the number-one problem facing schools.

Roberson named to GRS Plan Administrative Committee
School Board members approved the appointment of Sandi Roberson, director of Payroll, to serve on the Gwinnett Retirement System (GRS) Plan Administrative Committee. This committee is responsible for managing assets currently held for beneficiaries of GRS and for ensuring that the plan is properly administered. The GRS Plan Administrative Committee is comprised of nine representatives. GCPS' chief financial officer and chief human resources officer serve as permanent members. The other seven members serve seven-year terms. The committee includes three teachers, one local school administrator, one classified employee, one retiree, and one position of any classification of employee covered by the plan. Ms. Roberson fills the position for the classified position.

Superintendent and Board provide update on proposed Lanier Cluster
During the Board meeting, the Superintendent and Board members discussed plans for the new Lanier Cluster, one of the new clusters proposed in "The Plan," which addresses the system’s building program from 2007 to 2014. Although construction of schools in "The Plan" is contingent on voter approval of the sales tax extension in November, work is already underway to ensure new schools open as quickly and efficiently as possible. As a result, some of the preliminary work in the Lanier Cluster will involve students and families in the North Gwinnett area before the new Lanier Cluster is established. For example, soon the redistricting process and school naming process will begin. In addition, there will be some other changes unique to this area of the county.
· During the Fall of 2007, the Board of Education will begin the redistricting process for new schools and clusters in "The Plan." This phase will include drawing lines to divide the future Lanier Cluster and the North Gwinnett Cluster. The system’s redistricting process includes opportunities for community input.
· Lanier High, which will anchor the new cluster, is scheduled to open in 2010. That facility will result from the renovation and expansion of the current Lanier Middle facility, located on Buford Highway. In order to complete the transformation from middle to high school, the system will need to begin those renovations about two years prior to the school opening.
· As part of "The Plan," the school system will open a campus on Suwanee Dam Road in August 2008 that includes a new elementary and middle school. These two schools, which will serve the new Lanier Cluster once it is established, will serve as the home for all Lanier Middle students in 2008. In essence, Lanier Middle is moving to a new location in 2008 and is taking all of its students with it. For that one school year (2008-09), the 6th grade will be housed in the new elementary facility and 7th and 8th graders will be housed in the new middle school building.
· To decrease confusion with the move in 2008, the Lanier Middle name will transfer to the new middle school facility located on Suwanee Dam Road. (The name for the elementary school will go through the system's traditional naming procedure.)
· In 2009, the new middle school in the North Gwinnett Cluster will open. At that time, middle school students living in the redistricted North Gwinnett Cluster will move to that new school. Students zoned to the new Lanier Cluster will stay at the new Lanier Middle campus on Suwanee Dam Road.In addition, the Lanier Cluster elementary school, which will have housed 6th graders the previous year, will open under its new name.
· In 2010, the new Lanier Cluster will be established with the opening of the new Lanier High.
Lanier Cluster Timeline.pdf

Gwinnett School of Advanced Mathematics, Science and Technology Update
The school system is moving forward with plans for the Gwinnett School of Advanced Mathematics, Science, and Technology, which was approved by the Board of Education in March 2006. The permanent location for the facility is planned at the site on McElvaney Road in Lawrenceville that currently serves Benefield ES and Oakland School. These facilities will be renovated and additions will be constructed once these schools have relocated to their new sites. In the interim, a temporary campus for the Gwinnett School of Advanced Mathematics, Science, and Technology will be housed at Duluth HS, beginning in the Fall of 2007. During this period, transportation will not be provided and the enrollment will be limited to approximately 200 rising 9th graders. Students currently in 8th grade will be able to apply this winter for admission to the program next fall. Once the facility opens on McElvaney Road in the fall of 2010, it is expected that transportation will be provided, using existing routes that serve the adjacent Maxwell HS of Technology.
MST HS Timline Fall07-Spring2011 _Board 9-2006_.pdf

Board of Education discusses Partnership Gwinnett
CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks updated Board members on the Partnership Gwinnett initiative, which involves Gwinnett County leaders from the county government, the school system, and chamber of commerce. Through Partnership Gwinnett, local leaders will visit and learn from several benchmark communities-- Plano, Texas; Fairfax, Virginia; and neighboring Cobb County. The study of these communities will focus on transportation issues, education, and economic development.

School Board sets FY2008 budget development calendar
Each year, the School Board reserves critical dates relating to the development of the next year's budget. Key budget dates for FY2008 include:
Feb. 2, 2007-- Central Office budget managers submit proposed budget requests
Feb. 26 and 27, 2007-- Superintendent and Cabinet meet to discuss FY2008 requests
March 29 and 30, 2007-- Superintendent's Recommended budget to Board
April 14, 2007-- Board budget work session
April 17, 2007-- Board budget work session and adoption of tentative budget
April 23, 2007-- Copies of Superintendent's Recommended Budget available for public
May 4, 2007-- First public hearing on budget
May 10, 2007-- Second public hearing and final adoption
June 2007-- Adoption of millage rate
Sept. 2007-- Transmit adopted budget to State Department of Education

Board continues work revising policies
The following policy revisions were approved having been on the table for review since the August Board meeting:
- Policy DJE- Purchasing-- Changes aligned this policy with improvements in system processes.
- Policy GBRA- Drug and Alcohol Testing-- Changes aligned this policy with improvements in system processes.
The following proposed policy revisions were placed on the table for review until the October 12 Board meeting:
- Policy EBC- Data Access and Security-- Changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.
- Policy EBD- Email Data Archiving-- Information incorporated into the proposed policy reflects changes in current legislation.

Citizens addressing the Board
Patti Gabliondo and Ed Sale