GCPS Board Meeting Summary for January 11, 2001

          The following are highlights of the January 11, 2001, 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 Attends to Annual Business at Start of New Year
          January is the month for the School Board to adopt its officers for the new calendar year. Louise Radloff, 2000 vice chairman of the Board, was elected chairman for 2001 as the first order of business. Mrs. Radloff presided over the remainder of the January meeting. Dan Seckinger was elected vice chairman of the Board for 2001. In accordance with Board policy, the School Board reaffirmed its policies and bylaws, 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.

          Board Recognizes Teacher and Students for Achievement
          • The Board of Education recognized Vickie McCrary, a special education teacher at Collins Hill High, for winning the Sam Kirk Educator of the Year Award. This award is the highest honor bestowed by the Learning Disabilities Association of America. She will be honored at an international conference in New York City next month. Ms. McCrary is a former Gwinnett County Teacher of the Year.
          • The following students were honored by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) as recipients of its writing achievement awards:
            - Parkview High's Justin Burke, Matthew Joe, Richard Kmack, and Eve Pallansch
            - Shiloh High's Catherine Lee, Taryn O'Bra, and William Porter
            - Meadowcreek High's Lindsay Felty
            Gwinnett County students represent 38 percent of the winners from Georgia in this year's NCTE writing achievement program.

            Citizens Address the Board
            • Gwinnett County Association of Educators (GCAE) representatives Dr. Barbara Blasch and Dianne Lockwood, both teachers at Lilburn Middle, briefed the Board on the results of a poll conducted by GCAE of elementary teachers. The focus of the poll was to identify concerns that potentially affect teacher morale. Findings indicated there are three major factors: lack of daily planning time, lunch periods that are not "duty free" for teachers, and lack of paraprofessionals and/or clerical help to handle non-teaching duties that fall to teachers instead. GCAE recommends the following solutions: allot more points for special area teachers (art, music, PE) to allow daily planning time, provide a parapro for each kindergarten class that has more than 17 students, hire monitors to ensure teachers duty-free lunch periods and require an administrator to be present to supervise, and require system administrators routinely to consider the impact on teachers of existing or proposed programs.
            • Parent Lawrence Majors asked the Board to remove "trade secret" status from the Gateway tests once they are administered so that parents can review their children's tests without having to sign a confidentiality agreement.

              ServiceMaster Contract with Gwinnett Technical College Extended
              The Board of Education approved the continuation of Gwinnett Tech's contract with ServiceMaster Management Services. ServiceMaster provides training, management, and support to Gwinnett Tech's custodial, grounds, and maintenance departments.

              Gwinnett County 11th Graders Topped State and Regional Performance on Writing Portion of the Georgia High School Graduation Test
              Dr. Cindy Loe, associate superintendent for organizational advancement, presented the results of the Georgia High School Graduation Writing Test (GHSGT). On their first attempt, 97 percent of Gwinnett juniors passed the writing portion of the GHSGT, which was administered in October of 2000. This is a one-point increase over last year and ties the system's all-time highest passing rate. Gwinnett's passing rate is three points higher than the state's rate of 94 percent and two points above the metro-Atlanta region's passing rate of 95 percent. Georgia students must pass all portions of the GHSGT-- in addition to fulfilling local district requirements-- to earn a diploma. The writing segment is administered in the fall. The other portions of the exam are given in the spring.

              Board Issues Short-Term Construction Notes
              The Board authorized the issuance and sale of $100,000,000 in construction sales tax notes for the 2001 calendar year. These notes are issued as a temporary loan while waiting to receive revenue from the sales tax in 2001. Note proceeds will be used to pay expenses relating to the 1997 building program funded by the special purpose local option sales tax. The notes will be retired on December 31, 2001. Similar notes were issued in 1999 and 2000 and provided constant cash flow for capital projects and allowed the school system to maximize its investment opportunities. There is no net cost to the school system associated with this transaction.

              Modifications Made to Gwinnett Retirement System Committee Membership Terms
              School Board members agreed to modify section 10.01 of the Gwinnett Retirement System Plan Document to allow new members who are appointed to fill a departing member's term to serve a full seven-year term. Prior to this decision, members appointed to fill a departing member's term only served for the remainder of that term. Given the amount of time and effort it takes for a new member to become knowledgeable in retirement and disability issues, the former practice was deemed ineffective. In a related move, the Board approved the recommendation that all current GRS committee members who are serving in a less-than-seven-year term have their terms extended to a total of seven years.

              Tabled Policies Adopted by Board
              The Board of Education approved the following actions on proposed policies that were presented and tabled at the December meeting:
              • Board Conflict of Interest, Policy BHA-- Revised to include the provision that no local board of education shall employ or promote an immediate family member of a board member unless a public, recorded vote is taken.
              • School Year, Policy AE-- Revised to comply with requirements of HB 1187. Changes are made in language only and do not affect the current length of the school year (180 instructional days) in Gwinnett County Public Schools.
              • School (Calendar) Year, Policy AEA-- Rescinded because the issue is addressed in Policy AE above.
              • Pay for Performance, Policy DHA-- New. The adopted policy gives the local school principal the authority to determine the disbursement of Pay for Performance funds granted by the State Board of Education.
              • School Councils, Policy BBF-- Revised. New language in this policy outlines how the school councils mandated by HB 1187 will operate in the school system.
              • Ceremonies and Observances, Policy IKD-- Revised. Approved changes address graduation ceremonies for Phoenix High students.
              • Student Transfer Requests, Policy JBCD-- Revised to include the provisions for school transfers that are allowed under HB 1187.
              • Review of Board Policy, Policy BDE-- Revised to reflect the Board's current practice of tabling policy changes until the next regular Board meeting to allow for public input.

                Proposed Changes to Policy on Compulsory Attendance Age Tabled
                Staff members have recommended changes in this policy to comply with changes in state law regarding the ages at which children must be attending school. The Board members tabled the proposed policy until the February 2001 meeting to allow for public input.