GCPS Board Meeting Summary for May 20, 2010

The following are highlights of the May 20, 2010, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. Board members present included Chairman Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, Vice Chairman Dr. Robert McClure, Carole Boyce, Louise Radloff, and Daniel D. Seckinger. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.

Board honors award-winning students and staff
-- Board members honored Abi Emmanuel and Lindsay Marchello, both of Collins Hill HS, on their 1st and 2nd place finishes, respectively, in the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust Art and Writing Contest. The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Education, conducts an annual statewide art and writing contest for middle and high school students. The contest encourages students to learn the lessons of the Holocaust and the nature and repercussions of unchecked hate and prejudice taken to their ultimate extremes. The two essays by the Collins Hill HS students were first chosen from all of the entries submitted in their Honors World History classes and were then chosen from among the statewide entries. As winners, the students were recognized at the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust “Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust” on Friday, April 16, 2010, at the State Capitol and also received a monetary award. Accompanying the honorees were Principal Glenn McFall and their World History Teacher Cay Briscoe.

-- The School Board saluted the World Quest Team from Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology (GSMST) and team members Daniel Park, Luke Richardson, Viet Pham, and Han Fei Wang on their recognition as the 2010 Georgia World Quest Competition winner. In the competition, the students answered 100 multiple-choice questions on topics that included current events, countries, international law, U.N. peacekeeping organizations, worldwide elections, Great Decisions articles, and people in the news. As state winners, the students traveled to Washington, D.C., and competed in the national competition on April 23, 2010. Accompanying GSMST's winning student team were Dr. Jeff Mathews, principal. Suzanne Hammontree, social studies department chair, was the advisor for the team.

-- The Board recognized two
Twin Rivers MS teachers who have earned state and national recognition as being the tops in the science field. The Georgia Science Teachers' Association named Joey Nunn the 2010 Georgia Middle School Science Teacher of the Year. This award recognizes ongoing excellence in the teaching of science and commitment to its improvement. Recipients of the TOTY award are expected to make a presentation at the annual GSTA conference or submit an article for The Georgia Science Teacher.A complimentary registration to the annual GSTA conference is also provided to all TOTY award winners. Robert Chase was recognized by the National Science Teachers' Association with the Maitland P. Simmons Award for Outstanding New Science Teacher. This recognition provides up to 25 selected K-12 teachers in their first five years of teaching with funds of up to $1,000 to be used to attend the annual National Conference on Science Education. Recipients are invited to attend a variety of workshops and presentations that are of particular interest to new teachers at the conference.

-- Several Gwinnett students earned kudos from the Board on their 1st and 2nd place finishes in the 2010 Georgia State Junior Science Fair. This annual competition features middle school students' research in the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering. Students qualify for the state competition by placing first at the Regional Science and Engineering Fair. Gwinnett's 1st place finishers are Vinay Patel and Aalok Patel of Creekland MS, Kynnedi Fye and Nisaa Maragh of McConnell MS, and Justin Shanks of Trickum MS. Katie Hickman of Trickum MS was recognized for her 2nd place finish in the competition. Accompanying the honorees were Teachers Anthony Piazza of Creekland MS; Corey Helgesen of McConnell MS; and Brian Lucy and Cary Sell of Trickum MS

-- Gwinnett County Public Schools also had a number of students who were top finishers in the 2010 Georgia State Senior Science Fair. Gwinnett students taking 1st place for their projects include Michelle Lowe and Peter Nelson of Brookwood HS; Kaitlin Ahlstedt, Manan Gandhi, Giovanni Righi, Peter Schnaak, Sonali Shah, and Emily Summerbell of Collins Hill HS; and Jessica Allison of GSMST. Gwinnett students earning 2nd place in this state competition were Shemeer Jiwani, Justin Lennox, Anna Oltmann, Rachel Sunseri, and Neal Thackerof Brookwood HS; Taylor Hartman, Vivek Patel, and Carsen Popelka of Collins Hill HS; and
Shawn Albert
and Elliott Chung of GSMST. Accompanying the honorees were Principal Debra Dees and Teacher Dr. Jonathon Wetherington, both of Brookwood HS; Collins Hill HS Teacher Tara Termes; and GSMST Teacher Susan Kramer.

-- Gwinnett students were honored by the Gwinnett County Board of Education for their performance in the Continental Math League, garnering 17 awards. Two students-- Sophia Sakers of Hull MS and Ibaad Khan of Taylor ES-- earned 1st place in the nation in their respective categories. The Continental Math League is a high-level, problem-solving competition which 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 has six questions and is conducted within a 30-minute period. The top six scores from each school, for each test, are sent to the Continental Math League Office in New York. Click here for a complete listing of honored students.

-- Board members congratulated Heather Yu of Collins Hill HS and Tian Chen of North Gwinnett HS who were recognized as "Best of Show" and a Gold Award winner, respectively, at the All-State Art Symposium. Both students competed at the regional level. As regional winners, their artwork was selected for the state exhibition at Kennesaw State University. Both Heather and Tian were named state winners after state adjudication. Accompanying these student artists were: Principal Glenn McFall and Art Teacher Karen Campbell, both of Collins Hill; and Principal Ed Shaddix and Art Teacher Yvette Kim, both of North Gwinnett HS.

-- Two other students-- Victoria Nikolich of Collins Hill HS and Olivia Croxton of North Gwinnett HS-- were honored by the Board for their fine arts achievements. Victoria is a National Gold Medal Winner in Mixed Media and Drawing, and Olivia is an American Visions & Voices Medal for Photography Winner in the 2010 National Scholastic Art & Writing Competition. This competition had 165,000 art entries at the regional and state levels; 11,000 of these entries made it to the national level. Approximately 450 art pieces were selected for the National Scholastic Art Exhibition. The artwork of these students will be on display at the 2010 National Scholastic Art & Writing Teen Exhibition in New York City from June 9 to June 25, 2010, in the Courtyard Gallery at the World Financial Center. Accompanying the honorees were Glenn McFall, Principal, and Karen Campbell, Art Teacher, Collins Hill HS; Jim Markham, Principal, Mill Creek HS; and Ed Shaddix, Principal, and Bruce Bowman, Art Teacher, North Gwinnett HS.
-- The School Board recognized the principals, teachers, staff, and students of Osborne MS and Peachtree Ridge HS-- two Gwinnett schools recognized by the Georgia Department of Education as 2009 Georgia Schools of Excellence in the Greatest Gains Category. They are among 27 schools in the state to earn this prestigious honor. Qualifying schools in this category demonstrated greatest continuous gains in student achievement for the past three years as measured by assessments in reading and mathematics. Principals John Campbell of Osborne and Dr. Kevin Tashlein of Peachtree Ridge accepted the recognition on behalf of their school communities.

-- Members of the Board congratulated the academic teams from two Gwinnett middle schools on their award-winning performance in the Georgia Academic Team Association (GATA) State Tournament. Duluth MS' Academic Team and its team members Jack Botting, David Kamayor, Abhi Ramachandiran, Saad Rashi, Viral Shah, Mark Wang, and Mike Wang took 1st Place. Trickum MS' Academic Team was this year's 2nd place winner. The Trickum team members are T.J. Bakare, Brent Bessemer, Nicholas Button, Jerry Liu, and Michael Yu. Teams from throughout the state participated in this year's GATA State Tournament which was held on Saturday, April 17. Teams comprised of five players went head-to-head in answering questions on subjects ranging from social studies, science, language arts, literature, fine arts, and current events. The questions go well beyond regular middle grades curriculum which requires teams, if they are to be successful, to spend a great deal of time outside of school hours studying and practicing. This tournament determines who will reign as the GATA state champion for the year. Accompanying the Duluth MS honorees were Principals Deborah Fusi of Duluth MS and Kay Sands of Trickum MS. Duluth academic team coaches are Linda Koch and Sylvia Barteaux. Trickum coaches are Cary Sell and Linda Laperre.

-- Culinary arts students from Meadowcreek HS won their third consecutive Georgia ProStart Culinary Competition. Team members Tyler Rivera, Linh Nguyen, Jade Turner, Chrysta Cribb, and Diamond Hayes put their skills to the ultimate test in this competition, showcasing culinary and management skills. This demanding culinary event challenges students to represent their school as they compete for the opportunity to represent Georgia at the National Competition held April 30 – May 2, 2010, at Overland Park, Kansas. Each member will receive a $10,000 scholarship from Le Cordon Bleu; a $2,500 scholarship from the Art Institute and a $1,000 scholarship from Johnson and Wales. The Hospitality Education Foundation of Georgia sponsors the ProStart Culinary and Management Competition each year. Principal Bob Jackson and Culinary Instructor Debbie Grant joined the Board in congratulating these award-winning students.

-- The Gwinnett County School Board had the honor of recognizing two high school robotics teams-- Peachtree Ridge HS and Norcross HS-- for their award-winning performance in the Palmetto Invitational FIRST Robotics Championship. The Peachtree Ridge team outperformed the other competing teams to be tapped as the South Carolina state champions. The Norcross HS team received the competition's Judges Award. In this competition, students work together to use a modular robotics platform to design and build robots to compete in FIRST-designed games. Students learned to use various structural members, motors, gears, wheels, tank treads, motor controllers, microcomputers, transmitters, receivers, and computer programming in order for the robot to complete various tasks and win the event. Principals Jonathan Patterson of Norcross HS and Dr. Kevin Tashlein of Peachtree Ridge HS shared the pride their schools have for their award-winning teams.

-- Teams from North Gwinnett HS, Norcross HS and GSMST were congratulated on their outstanding showing in the Peachtree Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. The North Gwinnett team was tapped as the state champions and also earned the Rockwell "Innovation in Control Award." The Norcross HS team won the General Motors "Industrial Design Award." GSMST's team took the "Rookie All-Star Award." In addition, Tanner Smith of Peachtree Ridge HS was honored as a "Dean's List Award" winner. This competition was held March 5-6, 2010, at the Gwinnett Civic Center. Principals and robotics coaches from all four schools were on hand to help recognize their students.

-- The Gwinnett County Board of Education congratulated
Wesley Fox of Grayson HS and Michael Pitsos of South Gwinnett HS on their 1st place recognition by the Future Farmers of America (FFA) in the Biochemistry Microbiology and Food Science Division of the 2010 State Agriscience Fair. Both students attend the Grayson HS Technical Education Program. FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education. Grayson HS Principal David Hopson and Assistant Principal Isabelle Jones accompanied the students. These students qualified to compete at the national level.

-- Gwinnett students won 56 1st and 2nd place awards in the recent Technology Students' Association (TSA) 2010 state competition. Gwinnett County Public Schools has 14 active TSA chapters with more than 1,000 students participating. Through TSA, students have the opportunity to participate in leadership development activities and compete in a variety of events related to technology. Click here for the complete listing of Gwinnett students who took top honors in the Technology Students' Association. These students will have the opportunity to compete at the National Leadership Conference in July in Denver, Colorado.

-- Board members saluted five Gwinnett high school students who earned top honors in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) state competition. Winning 1st place were Brian Krause of Collins Hill HS- Help Desk; Daniel Kim of Grayson HS- Technology Concepts; and Jacob Hansard of North Gwinnett HS- Personal Finance. Michael Gargiuloof Brookwood HS finished in 2nd place in the categories of Personal Finance and Future Business Leader. FBLA is the largest student business organization in the world with more than 250,000 members. Georgia has the largest FBLA chapter in the nation with more than 17,500 members. It is an important partner in business education and student leadership development. The organization is recognized by the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor as an integral part of a co-curricular approach to business and leadership education. The FBLA mission is to bring business and education together in a positive working relationship through innovative leadership and career development programs.

-- In other honors from the Department of Technical Education, Computer Science, and Work-Based Learning, the Board recognized three North Gwinnett HS students and one Peachtree Ridge HS student who earned international DECA awards. North Gwinnett HS honorees are Hillary Cochran and Hannah Bush who both earned a Gold Level Award in School-based Enterprise Certification; and Kelliann Morrisey who was recognized as Vice President of Competitive Events for the Georgia State Action Team. Aviance Washington of Peachtree Ridge HS was recognized as Vice President of Communications for the Georgia State Action Team. Board members honored North Gwinnett HS DECA Teacher Dr. Jacqueline Huffman who earned the 2010 Otis Spunkmeyer 5-Star Business Award, which included a prize of $1,000. Gwinnett County Public Schools has 16 active DECA Chapters with more than 1,600 students participating. Through DECA, students have the opportunity to participate in leadership development activities and compete in a variety of events. Teacher Yolanda Bell is the DECA advisor at Peachtree Ridge HS.

Gwinnett School Budget Adopted, Millage Rate Tentatively Set
The members of the Gwinnett School Board adopted the FY2011 Budget in the expenditure amount of $1,761,075,032 as was tentatively adopted by the Board on April 20, 2010. CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks provided his FY2011 budget recommendations to the members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education the week of April 12, 2010. The Board met in work sessions to discuss the budget on April 17 and April 20, 2010. School Board members tentatively adopted the FY2011 Budget and then held public hearings on May 13 and May 20, 2010. As part of the budget process, the Board of Education is required to tentatively adopt a millage rate to support the budget. At tonight's meeting, the Gwinnett School Board tentatively adopted a millage rate of 19.25 mills for Maintenance and Operations and 1.30 mills for debt service to support the FY2011 Budget. Final adoption of the millage rate will occur in a special called Board meeting on Monday, June 14.

Crowell joins GCPS Foundation Fund
The Gwinnett County Board of Education approved the request of the Executive Board of Trustees of the GCPS Foundation Fund, Inc. to confirm the appointment of Delores Crowell to the Executive Board of Trustees of the Foundation. Crowell is a region manager for AT&T.

Board acts on applications for start-up charter schools
The Board of Education reviewed two petitions for start-up charter schools, denying the request of Aya Academy of Excellence and approving the request that would expand the Gwinnett County Online Campus to a charter school for students in grades 4-12.
- The Board denied a petition submitted by Aya Academy of Excellence. The application proposed service to students in grades 8-12, beginning in August 2011. This petitioner submitted a petition in 2009 that was denied by the Gwinnett Board and also received a denial in 2010 by the Charter Schools Commission. After a thorough review of the charter petition, the system's Charter Review Committee recommended that the petition be denied for several reasons, including:
- the application did not fully indicate the need for the school;
- it inadequately addressed educational programming for each proposed grade level;
- the outlined performance-based objectives do not meet minimal requirements for state and federal accountability;
- there are concerns related to the school's ability to recruit and retain qualified teachers for the level of salary and number of contract days; and
- the projected budgets did not account for numerous programs and services outlined in the petition.
- The Board approved the Gwinnett County Online Campus charter petition, which expands the current online course program to a charter school for full-time students in grades 4-12. The charter would be a Local Education Agency Start-Up Charter School under the supervision of the Gwinnett County Board of Education and Gwinnett County Public Schools. The enrollment would be phased in over time with the high school beginning in August 2011, the middle school opening in August 2012, and the 4th and 5th grades opening in August 2013. It would serve full-time students from all of Gwinnett County. As an online campus, the school would continue to enroll part-time students in courses as a supplement to their regular high school. The school would expand to allow students in grades 4-8 to enroll in supplemental courses. It would continue to provide after-school and summer school tuition-based courses for high school students. As part of the expansion of programs, it would provide after-school and summer school extension/enrichment and intervention courses to students in grades 4-8. With the Gwinnett School Board's approval, this charter application will be submitted to the Georgia Department of Education by August 1, 2010. It is anticipated that the State Board will vote on the petition by December. If granted, the charter school would begin in August 2011.

New Life Academy of Excellence to relocate
In other charter school news, the Gwinnett County Board of Education approved a request by New Life Academy of Excellence, Inc. to relocate to another facility and school site. This relocation will allow for the expansion of the school's enrollment. All due diligence has been done at the new site and building.

State changes prompt local modifications
Georgia's statewide assessment program was affected by reductions in the State's Budget for FY2011. This affects Gwinnett County Public Schools as portions of the state assessment program is used for promotion and accountability purposes or as vital support for students taking college entrance examinations. In light of the changes at the State level, the School Board approved modifications to GCPS' assessment program and has authorized funding for specific assessments that need to be continued.
- GCPS will no longer provide the CRCT for students in grades 1 and 2, as recommended by the state.
- The state also eliminated funding for the 3rd and 5th grade writing tests. However, the Gwinnett County Board of Education will continue to administer the 5th grade writing test, continuing its policy of using this assessment as a promotion requirement for this grade level.
- Although the state will no longer fund the PSAT for all 10th graders, GCPS will continue this practice.
- In addition, GCPS will continue to fund one Advanced Placement test for students who do not qualify for free and reduced lunch, and two additional tests for students who do qualify for free and reduced lunch.

Board continues updates to policies
The School Board approved the following policy changes after tabling them last month to allow for public input:
Policy IDE- Competitive Interscholastic Activities, Grades 6-12- Minor changes to this policy align it with the update in state board rule.
Policy JCAB- Interrogations and Searches- Changes align policy with improvements in system processes.
Policy JCD- Student Conduct Behavior Code- Changes align policy with improvements in system processes.
Policy JDD- Consequences for Offenses- Changes align policy with improvements in system processes.