GCPS Board Meeting Summary for January 8, 2009

The following are highlights of the January 8, 2009, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. Board members present included Chairman Daniel D. Seckinger, Vice Chairman Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, Carole Boyce, Dr. Robert McClure, and Louise Radloff. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.

Board attends to annual business at start of new calendar year
January is the month for the School Board to elect its officers for the new calendar year. As the first order of business, Daniel D. Seckinger, who represents District II, was elected chairman for 2009. Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, District III representative, was elected vice chairman for 2009. In accordance with policy, the School Board reaffirmed its policies, designated the Gwinnett Daily Post as the official media organ for the school system, and approved retaining the services of Thompson & Sweeny as its legal counsel. In addition, Board members approved the meeting schedule for 2009. Adopted School Board meeting dates for 2009 include January 8, February 12, March 12, April 16, May 14, June 18, July 9, August 13, September 10, October 8, November 12, and December 10.

Students and staff members earn Board recognition
-- The Board honored JROTC Cadet John Williams of Parkview HS on his recognition as the United States Interscholastic Orienteering Champion in High School Junior Varsity Men's Division and on his first-place finish in Orienteering at the advanced Green Level at the U.S. Orienteering Championships. Orienteering is a sport that involves physical fitness and the ability to navigate over wooded terrain as quickly as possible, using a detailed map and a precision compass. Dr. Charles "Buck" Buchanan, principal of Parkview HS, and Gunnery Sergeant David Erwin accompanied Cadet Williams, along with his mother, Amy Williams, who teaches Spanish at Five Forks MS and serves as a coach for the school's orienteering team.
-- Board of Education members saluted the Shiloh HS Concert Choir on its win in the Idol Choir Competition. The Shiloh HS Concert Choir was one of seven choirs to audition for a $5,000 cash prize and the opportunity to sing with TV’s “American Idol” favorites-- including Diana DiGarmo, a Shiloh HS graduate-- at the Classic Center Theatre in Athens, Ga., on December 5-6. Dr. Gwen Tatum, principal of Shiloh HS, and Craig Johnson, choral director, accompanied choir members. A group of Shiloh choir students will represent Georgia in the Heritage Music Festival in Washington, D.C., later this month.
-- The School Board recognized Collins Hill HS' Girls Cross Country Team on its AAAAA state championship season.This is the sixth consecutive title for the Collins Hill HS Girls Cross Country Team. The team set a record for the highest-ever team score in the state meet. As a team, these student-athletes boast a cumulative GPA of 3.54. The team was accompanied by Head Coach Andrew Hudson, Girls Assistant Coach Jessica Sedor, Boys Assistant Coach Richard Ramsey, Community Coach Jeff Hoffman, and Principal Glenn McFall.
--- The Peachtree Ridge HS Boys Cross Country Team also took center stage at the Board meeting, earning recognition as the AAAAA 2008 State Champions. The honor is particularly noteworthy in the school's brief history, as it marks a tremendous three-year climb to the top. The Peachtree Ridge team finished 15th in the state in 2006 and 6th in 2007, before taking the top spot this year. In introducing the team, Athletics Director Bill Holleman spoke of the team's passion that made this championship a reality. Coach Ron Clanton thanked the team members for their hard work and acknowledged their parents and the school's leadership team for their support of the program. Calling his team the "long-shots," Coach Clanton praised team members for their maturity, integrity, and terrific work ethic. Accompanying the team and Coach Clanton were the Girls' Cross Country Team's Coach Tomy Sitton and the school's principal, Dr. Kevin Tashlein.

Superintendent and Board discuss state approval of IE2 Partnership Contract
During the Board and Superintendent Discussion portion of the meeting, Board members and CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks discussed the State Board of Education's unanimous approval of the school district's IE2 Partnership Contract. Board members expressed their pride that Gwinnett County Public Schools is the pioneer district in implementing this exciting and promising initiative. School Board members and Mr. Wilbanks thanked a wide range of people who helped bring this flexibility to the school district, from the Governor, members of the Georgia Assembly, Superintendent Kathy Cox and state leaders who helped the district develop its contract to district staff who worked tirelessly to create a sound plan that embraces accountability and makes the most of the granted flexibility. In speaking about the implementation of the partnership contract, Mr. Wilbanks stated that the Local School Plans for Improvement (LSPIs), which are created with the involvement of staff, school councils, and PTAs, will be an integral part of the process as we move forward. Board members and Mr. Wilbanks reiterated that the district will continue to communicate with stakeholders on this important initiative.

School Board continues its policy work
It is the practice of the Board to require an ongoing audit of Board policies and administrative procedures. This practice ensures that the school system is in compliance with state and federal laws and State Board of Education rules, and allows for Board oversight and governance. Executive Director for Administration and Policy Jorge Gomez reviewed the district's process for maintaining accurate and effective policies and procedures and provided an update on the current status.
As part of its ongoing policy work, the School Board approved the following policy which had been tabled in December to allow for further input:
Policy DCI- Budget Amendment-- Changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.

Citizens addressing the Board
-- Candace Medlin, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.