GCPS Board Meeting Summary for February 8, 2007

The following are highlights of the February 8, 2007, 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
-- The Board saluted the Peachtree Ridge HS football team on being named a 2006 AAAAA state co-champion. This is the first time a fourth-seeded team has won a state championship. Dr. Steve Flynt, the school's principal, applauded the efforts of these student-athletes and praised the school's coaching staff which was led by Head Coach Blair Armstrong and assistant coaches Carl Cole and Chuck Hudson.Coach Armstrong also acknowledged the support of Assistant Principal David Hopson and Athletic/Activities Director Bill Holleman.
-- Board members recognized IV Bray of Berkmar HS, Jan Eakin of J.P. McConnell MS, and Alex McDugald, formerly in Business and Finance, on their completion of a seven-year service term on the Gwinnett Retirement System (GRS) Plan Administrative Committee. The Gwinnett Retirement System is led by an Administrative Committee that is comprised of teachers, administrators, and other current and former GCPS employees. These dedicated individuals serve on behalf of their fellow employees and retirees as trustees of our GRS retirement funds. Members of the committee serve a seven-year term and each represent a specific segment of our employee population (i.e., teachers, local school administrators, central office staff, retirees). These three individuals each completed a full seven-year term during 2006 and are being recognized for their long-term commitment to both GRS and GCPS.
-- Thirty Gwinnett County educators recently completed National Board Certification, earning the nation’s highest credential for teachers. These teachers are Sara Akin of Norcross HS, Bryan Anthony Capes of Ivy Creek ES, Laurie L. Cook of J.P McConnell MS, Jacqueline Caroline Ellis of Duluth HS, Michael Robert Findley of Norcross HS, Yolanda Ann Harris of Bethesda ES, Kristy Beam Hendricks of Pharr ES, Kathleen Botkin Henry of Harbins ES, Loy K. Jayne of Brookwood HS, Cynthia Anel Kauffman of Norcross HS, Genevieve Reimers Lang of Sycamore ES, Judy Wills Lowder of Peachtree Ridge HS, Brian Lucy of Trickum MS, Grit Malkin of Parkview HS, Dr. Jeffrey A. Mathews of Parkview HS, Susan Blackerby Neuman of Norcross HS, Dr. Penny Oglesby-Cruise of Mill Creek HS, Bernadette Patrey of Norcross ES, Judy Peerless of Winn Holt ES, Katherine Raines of Rockbridge ES, Joanna Root of Grayson HS, Julie D. Shively of Winn Holt ES, Amy Sue Steinberg of Berkeley Lake ES, Jeffrey L. Teeple of Norcross HS, Kimberly Choate Thames of Meadowcreek ES, Elizabeth Burrell Thomas of Fort Daniel ES, Deborah Frances Tozzi of Norcross ES, Amy Jenkins Washington of Shiloh MS, Dr. Terry N. Williams of Meadowcreek HS, and Dr. Clyde H. Wylie of Mill Creek HS.
Established by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), this voluntary process typically takes one to three years to complete and measures what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do. As part of the rigorous process, teachers build portfolios that include student work samples, assignments, videotapes and a thorough analysis of their classroom teaching. Additionally, teachers are assessed on their knowledge of the subjects they teach.

Gwinnett proclaims appreciation to the PTA
In observance of the National PTA's founding 110 years ago this month, the School Board adopted a proclamation stating its appreciation for the PTA as a valued partner in Gwinnett County Public Schools' quest to become a system of world-class schools. In doing so, the Board acknowledged the Gwinnett PTA Council and the local school units for their work as advocates for children, families, and public education in Gwinnett County. The Board of Education officially proclaimed February 17, 2007, as PTA Day in Gwinnett County Public Schools. School Board members thanked Gwinnett Council PTA Co-Vice-Presidents Holly Nelson and Angela Manetta, and the PTA membership for their continued support of Gwinnett schoolchildren.

Board approves changes to elementary and middle school assessment program
The Gwinnett County Board of Education approved changes to the elementary and middle school Gateway Assessment Program based on the recommendations made by the Gateway Technical Advisory Committee. Among the recommendations was to consider using the CRCT in language arts and mathematics as the multiple choice section of the Gateway. The recommendation also included augmenting the CRCT math section with open-ended questions to ensure coverage of the AKS. These recommendations will go into effect in the 2007-08 school year.
Key recommendations:
- Language arts: Students in 4th and 7th grade will be expected to "Meet" or "Exceed" grade-level performance on CRCTs in Reading and Language Arts for promotion to 5th and 8th grade. Students who do not pass either section will be provided summer school and the opportunity to retest at the end of summer school.
- Mathematics: Students in 4th and 7th grade will be expected to "Meet" or "Exceed" grade-level performance on the mathematics section of the CRCT as initial promotion criteria to 5th or 8th grade. Students also will be expected to pass the open-ended assessment, developed to measure AKS, which measures rigorous problem-solving skills. Students who do not pass either the CRCT or the open-ended assessment will be provided summer school and the opportunity to retest at the end of summer school.
- Writing: Students in 5th and 8th grade will be expected to "Meet" or "Exceed" grade-level performance on the Georgia Elementary or Middle School Writing assessments in addition to the state's promotion requirement on the CRCT in Reading and Mathematics, and grades indicating success in learning the AKS. Writing retests will be provided to any student who does not meet grade-level expectations in May and at the end of summer school.

SACS team recommends district accreditation
After a three-day visit that included a review of system documentation, more than 800 interviews with employees and stakeholders, and professional deliberation considering whether or not the district meets designated standards, a team representing the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement rendered a recommendation that Gwinnett County Public Schools be awarded district accreditation as a quality school system. As part of the team's oral exit report, the team outlined the strengths, achievements, commendations, limitations/challenges, and recommendations noted through their study of the school system. Among the items noted were:
- Stable, visionary, and effective leadership at all levels
- A continuous focus on the core business of teaching and learning
- Systemwide alignment of curriculum, instruction, and assessment
- A competent and caring faculty, staff, and administration
- The Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) curriculum
- The Results-Based Evaluation System and the system's data-driven continuous improvement effort
- Access to technology systemwide, particularly with respect to access to student data
- Providing high-quality communication and wide stakeholder involvement
- Continue to close the achievement gap at all levels.
- Recruit and retain high-quality staff and administration, with a particular emphasis on increasing the percentage of teachers and administrators to reflect the system's growing, diverse student population.
- Continue to study the long-range impact of increased student growth upon the system, with a particular emphasis on system organization, systemwide services, and system funding.
A written report of the team's findings and observations will be drafted and sent to CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks within 30 days. Once approved, the district and all of its schools will be accredited.

School Board adopts instructional materials
The Board of Education adopted the core instructional materials for Social Studies (grades 6-12), Language Arts (AP Language and Composition), Language Arts/Mathematics (SAT Preparation), and Health (abstinence education for grades 6-12) as recommended. The projected budget for core materials adoptions is $6,325,733.

System presents Comprehensive Annual Financial Report
The Board of Education received a copy of the system's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), which is prepared each year in accordance with standards set by the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) and the Association of School Business Officers (ASBO). It includes detailed financial information for the most recently completed fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2006. This annual report has been audited by the school district’s external auditors, Mauldin and Jenkins.

Board tables proposed policies for input
Staff is recommending that the following proposed new policies be placed on the table for review until the March 8, 2007, School Board meeting:
Policy BBABG- Business Systems Oversight-- This new policy specifies the Board's governance role in overseeing the Superintendent's management and performance of the school district's major business and operational systems.
Policy KC- Constituent Services-- This proposed new policy outlines a process for ensuring that constituent requests to Board members for information or assistance are addressed in a timely and appropriate manner.
Policy BCAG- Board Workshops-- This proposed new policy reflects the Board's commitment to holding each year periodic workshops on topics of educational or operational significance for the purpose of receiving in-depth information from the Superintendent and staff.
Policy BAA- Board's Theory of Action for Student Achievement-- This proposed new policy articulates its theory of action for improving student achievement and effectuating its core beliefs and commitments about teaching and learning.
Policy BCAB-- School Board Meetings-- Changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.
Policy BCBI-- Public Participation in Board Meetings-- Changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.

Citizens addressing the Board
-- Marlyn Tillman