GCPS Board Meeting Summary for January 21, 2010

The following are highlights of the January 21, 2010, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. Board members present included Daniel D. Seckinger, 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, Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, who represents District III, was elected chairman for 2010. Dr. Robert McClure, District IV representative, was elected vice chairman for 2010. 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 2010. Adopted School Board meeting dates for 2010 include January 21, February 18, March 18, April 15, May 20, June 17, July 15, August 19, September 16, October 21, November 18, and December 16. The Board will hold oversight workshops in the following areas during 2010: Business and Finance- March 18, Construction Management/Facilities Maintenance- July 15, Information Management- September 16, Human Resources- November 18, and School Nutrition Program - December 16.

Board honors award-winning students and staff
  • The Board saluted the district's Special Education Department on recent recognitions by the Georgia Department of Education. The school system received a Certificate for Highest Performance in Size Group A (Over 3,000 students with disabilities). Specifically, Gwinnett County Public Schools was honored for its work to decrease the number of students with disabilities who drop out of school. The district also received a Certificate for Meeting State Target in Size Group A, honoring its work in meeting state targets for graduates with disabilities who earn regular education diplomas and by meeting state targets for reducing the number of students with disabilities who drop out of school. Nearly 50 percent of Gwinnett's students with disabilities earned regular education diplomas and 4.3 percent dropped out. Executive Director for Special Education Susan White thanked the teachers and administrators, as well as support division staff throughout the district, who work together to help meet the needs of students.
  • Board members honored Gwinnett County School Police on earning law enforcement certification from the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police. Of the approximately 700 law enforcement agencies in the state of Georgia, only 95 have met the rigorous standards needed for recognition as a State Certified Agency. On November 30, 2009, Gwinnett County School Police became one of only three school police departments in Georgia to achieve this certification. Chief Wayne Rikard and Officer Tony Lockard accepted this award on behalf of Gwinnett County School Police. Accompanying Chief Rikard and Officer Lockard were Lt. Randy Holloway, Lt. Tom Schwarzer, and Lt. Bill Wellmaker.
  • The Board of Education applauded Chelsea Sharpe and Joo Whan (Jason) Yoo, both of Duluth HS, on their selection to the National High School Honors Orchestra, sponsored by the American String Teachers Association. Jason was one of only 16 cellists selected for this group, and Chelsea was one of only 36 violinists selected from hundreds of high school orchestra students from around the nation. Accompanying the honorees were Duluth HS Principal Jason Lane and the school's orchestra directors, Dr. Peter Lemonds and Ms. Shawn Morton. The students, who have won a number of awards during their musical careers, showcased their talents, playing a piece for the Board and those in attendance. In introducing the students, Dr. Lemonds thanked the Board for its continued support of excellence in fine arts programs.
  • Kudos to Norcross HS on winning the 2009 AAAAA One-Act Play State Championship for the school's production of "Lost in Yonkers." This is the first state championship won by the Norcross HS One-Act Play program. David Iduate and Erika Miranda, members of the One-Act team, also won Best Actor and Best Actress in the state awards. Accompanying the student honorees were Principal Jonathan Patterson and Activities Director Kirk Barton. Mr. Patterson thanked Norcross HS parents and community members for their support of the arts and the role they play in a world-class school. Drama teachers Gina Parrish and Randy Kemper expressed their pride in the "Norcross Drama Family" and in this group of students who captured the state championship.
  • Board members saluted Nikhil Lakhanpal of Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology on his designation as a United States Senate Youth Delegate.The United States Senate Youth Program is designed to broaden the knowledge and understanding of high school students about Congress and the legislative process. Nikhil is one of just two Georgia students who were selected to receive this recognition. He will receive a $5,000 scholarship and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. Accompanying Nikhil at the Board meeting were his principal and school counselor, Dr. Jeff Mathews and Amy Burke.
  • Board members recognized the Brookwood HS Boys Cross Country Team on its 2009 AAAAA state championship season.This is the ninth state championship for the Brookwood HS Boys Cross Country Team. Principal Deborah Dees and Activities Director Mark Kimbro joined the Board in recognizing these student athletes on their most recent accomplishment. Ms. Dees congratulated the team and thanked Coach Ben Dehnke for his work. She said, "He does an incredible job as cross country coach, but also as a language arts teacher and role model for students." In sharing a number of his team's accomplishments throughout the season, Coach Dehnke stated that any conversation about the best cross country team in Georgia must include this team.
  • Also earning praise from the Board was the Mill Creek HS Competition Cheerleading Team, this year's AAAAA state champions. This is the second consecutive state championship for the Mill Creek HS Competition Cheerleading Team. Accompanying the honorees were Jim Markham, principal, and Gary Long, activities director. Coaches Brenda Petty and Ashley Taube thanked the school administration for its support and team members for their hard work and dedication. In her remarks, Coach Taube shared the team's motto for the year... "It takes talent to win; to repeat takes character."
  • Another cheerleading team, the Peachtree Ridge HS Co-Ed Competition Cheerleading Team, also earned a state championship title-- the 2009 AAAAA co-ed state champions. This is the fourth state championship in the last five years for the Peachtree Ridge HS Co-Ed Competition Cheerleading Team. Dr. Kevin Tashlein, principal, and Bill Holleman, activities director, accompanied the team. Dr. Rob Spencer, the competition cheerleading coach, applauded the team's focus and shared some of the challenges the team overcame during its state championship run.

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.

Board names new entrance to Duluth HS 'Wildcat Way'
The Board supported a proposal by Duluth HS to name the new entrance road at the school "Wildcat Way." Principal Jason Lane solicited input from the Duluth HS Local School Council, PTSA Executive Board, and Principal's Advisory Committee on the official name for this new road. After all parties were given the chance to vote, the overwhelming majority supported "Wildcat Way" as the new road's name.

Citizens Addressing the Board
- Thomas Looney, Lenovo North America