11/14/2002









GCPS Board Meeting Summary for November 14, 2002

          The following are highlights of the November 14, 2002, 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 of Education recognizes student and staff
          -- The Board of Education recognized Jibran Shermohammed of Alton C. Crews MS who was recently honored by the National Anti-Defamation League. In March of 2002, the group's regional division recognized Jibran's participation on the school's Trust Team and the team's fundraising efforts for the victim's of Sept. 11. In Oct. of 2003, he was recognized at the national meeting of the Anti-Defamation League where he gave a speech to national leaders and was the recipient of the organization's Unsung Hero Award. In her introduction, Principal Mary Anne Charron proudly explained that Jibran will continue to have a positive impact on Alton C. Crews MS as he was recently elected student council president.
          -- School Board members commended the departments of Broadcast and Distance Learning and Community and Media Relations for their work which earned top honors from the Georgia School Public Relations Association. GCPS earned the Gold Award of Excellence in the Audio/Visual Media Category for "Serious About World-Class," a video created to help introduce the school system's revised strategic goals. The Gold Award of Excellence for Special Purpose Publications was awarded for a themed publication, "Building Bridges," created by the Department of Community and Media Relations in collaboration with the school system's Guidance and Counseling Department. Judges applauded the visual and editorial quality of the two entries. On hand to accept the Board's congratulations were Greg LaHatte, Glenn Ballard, and Peggy Shivers of Broadcast and Distance Learning and Lori Larsen and Sloan Roach of Community and Media Relations.

          GCPS earns Aaa bond rating; Board refunds existing bonds
          History-making news in the financial arena was shared with the Gwinnett County Board of Education as Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks informed the Board that Moody's Investors Service has awarded the school system a triple-A (Aaa) rating on its bonds. Gwinnett is the first school system in Georgia to earn such an outstanding distinction. The good news came as the Board approved the refunding of existing bonds issued in 1994 and 1995. Moody's reviewed the school system's financial history and projections; and assigned the higher rating of Aaa to all of the system's outstanding bonds, including the $147 million in refunding bonds. A.G. Edwards and Sons, Inc. managed the refunding of the bonds, which will result in savings of approximately $8.2 million for the taxpayers of Gwinnett County. In commending the Board, A.G. Edwards Managing Director Dianne McNabb called the Aaa bond rating a "sensational accomplishment." She confirmed that no other school system in Georgia has achieved this outstanding rating and that only 13 other school systems in the United States have earned a Aaa rating. As a result of the extremely favorable rating, the school system's bonds are very attractive to investors and GCPS is able to borrow money at the lowest possible interest rates. The rating upgrade to Aaa reduced the system's interest cost on the refunding bonds issued by approximately $1 million.

          Educators provide update on AKS Continuous Improvement Model
          The Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) Continuous Improvement Model is a research-based instructional process that provides a structure that has proven beneficial for teaching and assessing specific areas of the curriculum. Using the model, schools and teachers analyze data to pinpoint and target curriculum areas in which students most need to improve. Director of Continuous Improvement Tricia Kennedy provided Board members with an overview of this system initiative and reviewed components of the model. To date, 51 schools have participated in training and more than 30 schools are using the model or components of the model. Jackson ES teachers Jennifer Burkingstock and Kelley Bailey and Rockbridge ES teacher Malissa Gray shared details on how they are using this process. The teachers provided the Board with specific examples of how their schools have implemented the AKS Continuous Improvement Model and the benefits they see for teachers and their students.

          Board approves 2003 legislative program
          Each year the Gwinnett County Board of Education communicates with the Gwinnett Delegation to the General Assembly those issues that are critical in improving the impact of educational programs. The legislative program, which includes several continuing positions (maintaining local control of public education, curriculum, and student discipline; resisting efforts to provide contracts for classified employees, and opposing collective bargaining), will be presented to Gwinnett's legislators for their consideration in the upcoming legislative session. Other requests included in this year's legislative program include:
          -- Increase Quality Basic Education (QBE) funding to address instructional costs for consumable materials and supplies, textbooks, and replacements of instructional equipment. Gwinnett provides 61% of the cost of instructional materials, supplies, and textbooks. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2002, the state provided $10 million of the $25.4 million cost.
          -- Provide mid-term adjustments for Training and Experience of all certificated professional personnel employed by the system as of the most recent month for which the data is available. Presently, the reporting lag for QBE funding is one year. Gwinnett lost approximately $7 million because of this lag in FY2002.
          -- Increase state funding for facility maintenance and operations (M&O) to reflect actual expenditures incurred by the local school system.
          -- Increase the existing amount of $150 per teacher per year to pay for substitute teachers to an amount that is commensurate to the actual cost to the local school system.
          -- Revise the current legislation of state funding for transportation of students to include students who live outside a one-mile radius of school. Currently only those students who live more than one-and-a half miles from school are provided for in the state funding formula. Student transportation funding should reflect the true operational costs to local systems. The state currently funds only 16% of the school system's total cost of transportation.
          -- Consider increasing the Teachers Retirement System benefits to employees who choose to continue to work beyond 30 years in order to help with the teacher shortage.
          -- Increase state funding to supplement the full cost of teacher salary increases including benefits and have the state share in the cost of paying for Social Security or, in Gwinnett's case, the Social Security alternative, Gwinnett Retirement System.
          -- Provide flexibility to local schools to spend media funds systemwide rather than that at a specific school site.
          -- Continue to fund capital outlay at the $200 million level for Regular Entitlement and at the $100 million level for Exceptional Growth. The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) program funds approximately 70% of the school system's classroom needs. The state capital outlay program funds 10% to 15%. Therefore, there is an approximate 15% shortfall.
          -- Change investment guidelines of the Georgia Governmental Defined Benefit Plans to allow the investment portfolio in equities to go as high as 70% (currently maximum is 55%) with the requirement for fixed income investment instruments to decrease to a minimum of 30% (currently 45% minimum), and to permit the use of Real Estate Investment Trust as an investment tool. Providing this portfolio mix will allow for adjustment in cyclical economic time periods and maximize investment returns providing benefit stabilization.
          -- The highest priority for Gwinnett Technical College in FY2004 is the full conversion to state governance, for which state funds of $9,575,415 are needed. In addition to the state assumption of funding for the current county support of $5,987,387 for Gwinnett Technical College and the $731,691 for the net increase per the state enrollment-based formula, Gwinnett Technical College is requesting that the net additional state funds of $2,586,337 be provided in the Department of Technical and Adult Education funding formula for Operating Expenses and Minor Repairs and Renovations, based on the 519,334 square feet of additional space at Gwinnett Technical College. These additional state funds are needed to replace basic administrative and support functions now being provided by GCPS in support of new or expanded instructional programs, student support services, and operational support services as a result of an increase in enrollment of 510 students.

          GRS Annual Report reflects sound financial condition
          Each year the Gwinnett Retirement System (GRS) issues an annual report to employees and retirees which shows the status of the retirement program and includes the outside auditor's opinion letter and the report of the GRS actuary. This year's report reflects that GRS is in sound financial condition and is positioned to provide the benefits outlined in the Plan Document. In presenting the report to the School Board, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Weiler said "Despite recent downturns in the economy, the GRS is very well funded and is in good shape."

          Board tables policy action
          School Board members tabled the request to rescind the following policies to allow for public input:
          --Policy JCA- Student Complaint-- Information contained in this policy has been incorporated into Procedure P.JC- Student Complaints- Sexual Harassment/Discrimination.

          School Board members designate GSBA legislative liaison
          The Gwinnett County Board of Education designated Dr. Mary Kay Murphy of District III as its representative to the Georgia School Boards Association's legislative liaison meeting to be held in Dublin, Ga. next month.

          Citizens Addressing the Board
          James Dumond
          April Gann
          Patricia Solomon


          The School Board also approved the following appointments at its meeting on November 14, 2002.


          Name-- Current Position

          Appointment

          Laurie Allison-- Principal, G.H. Hopkins ES

          Principal, J.A. Alford ES

          Brenda Anderson-- Principal, Bethesda ES

          Principal, Sycamore ES

          Chris Emsley-- Principal, Jackson ES

          Principal, Duncan Creek ES

          Dr. Phil Epperson-- Principal, J.G. Dyer ES

          Principal, W.J. Cooper ES

          Dr. Valerie Manson-- Principal, Annistown ES

          Principal, Corley ES

          Melinda Sepmeyer-- Principal, B.B. Harris ES

          Principal, Parsons ES

          Thomas Trippany-- Administrative Assistant, Centerville ES

          Assistant Principal, Centerville ES

          Patrick Ferguson-- Special Education Teacher, GIVE Center

          Half-Time Administrative Assistant, GIVE Center

          Julia Deraney-- Tech Prep Coordinator, Screven County (Ga.) Board of Education

          Tech Prep Coordinator, Center for Educational Programs

          Carla Steele-- Division Manager for Administration and Human Resources, Ricoh Electronics

          Apprenticeship Coordinator, Center for Educational Programs

          Susan Larson-- Instructional Support Services Coordinator, Georgia Perimeter College

          Division Director, Computer and Industrial Technology Division, Gwinnett Technical College