GCPS Board Meeting Summary for January 20, 2011

The following are highlights of the January 20, 2011, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. Board members present included Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, 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 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. Robert McClure, who represents District IV, was elected chairman for 2011. Louise Radloff, District V representative, was elected vice chairman for 2011. 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 2011. Adopted School Board meeting dates for 2011 include January 20, February 10, March 17, April 21, May 19, June 16, July 21, August 18, September 15, October 20, November 17, and December 15. The Board will hold oversight workshops in the following areas during 2011: Business and Finance-- March 17, Transportation-- May 19, Construction Management/Facilities Maintenance-- July 21, Information Management-- September 15, and Human Resources-- November 17.

Board members honor award-winning students and staff
-- The Gwinnett County Board of Education saluted the Department of Special Education which was recognized by the Georgia Council for Administrators of Special Education and the Georgia Department of Education for meeting state performance targets for students with disabilities. GCPS was found to have met one or more of the performance goals for students with disabilities:
- by meeting state targets for reducing the number of students who drop out of school;
- by meeting state targets for students who meet or exceed state achievement standards for mathematics on the state's Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT); and
- by meeting state targets for students who meet or exceed state achievement standards for reading/English language arts on the CRCT. 
Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Dale Robbins congratulated Paula Truppi, executive director for Special Education and Psychological Services, and her team for their service to Gwinnett students and schools. In accepting this recognition on behalf of Gwinnett's special education educators, Ms. Truppi thanked the parents, educators, administrators, and Board members for their support of special education and the students served in the program.
-- The School Board congratulated Sweetwater MS on its second place finish in the state's middle school One-Act Play competition with its version of Alice in Wonderland. The Sweetwater Players competed on Saturday, November 20, receiving top scores. In addition, the school's theatre troupe received a "Superior" rating and several Sweetwater student actors won the Best Actor and Best Actress awards. Principal Georgann Eaton shared that more than 90 students participate in dramatic presentations at the school, blending performance skills with language skills. Teacher Brandy Meadows explained to Board members that she teaches life skills through theatre skills. Her students have won recognition in every competition in which they have participated. Students who earned individual honors during the one-act play competition included Negash Desta, Omar Gray, Dwight Taylor, and Diana Koye.
-- Board members honored Brian Baek of Mill Creek HS for his recognition as a 2010-11 U.S. Senate Youth Program Delegate. He is one of two students chosen to represent Georgia at a week-long conference in Washington D.C. As a state delegate, he was awarded a $5,000 college scholarship. Accompanying Brian were Assistant Principal Dr. Chesley Cypert and Social Studies Department Chair Maria Keyes. They shared that Brian is very deserving of this honor, excelling at school and serving as an exceptional role model. This is the third year in a row that a Gwinnett student has been selected as one of the state's two delegates.
-- Peachtree Ridge HS' Coed Competition Cheerleaders earned kudos from the Board as the 2010 AAAAA state champions. The squad has won two consecutive state championships and five state titles in the past six years. Accompanying the team were Principal Dr. Kevin Tashlein, Activities Director Bill Holleman, and Head Coach Dr. Rob Spencer. Dr. Tashlein shared that the team was undefeated this year and that Dr. Spencer has done a remarkable job in building a culture of success in the program which has achieved a record of 368 wins and only 10 losses.
-- Also earning a state championship for the second consecutive season was the Brookwood HS Boys Cross Country Team. Accompanying the honorees were Principal Debbie Dees, Activities Director Mark Kimbro, and Coach Ben Dehnke. Ms. Dees reflected on the program's history of success which includes 10 state championships. This year's team of 102 young men included 51 scholar athletes. She thanked the coaches for their leadership. Coach Dehnke expressed his pride in the team and in individual team members. The team ranked #1 in the Southeast and #19 in the nation. Coach Dehnke said that what made this tremendous season so special was the terrific work ethic of the team... the athletes each ran more than 1,400 miles between June and November.
-- The Board of Education also honored Brookwood HS' Football Team, this year's AAAAA state football champions. This is the school's second state championship season. The first was in 1996. Accompanying Principal Dees and Mr. Kimbro were members of the team and Head Football Coach Mark Crews. Ms. Dees explained that this was an amazing achievement, not just for the football team but for the entire Brookwood Cluster. She said, "It was a beautiful thing to see our entire community celebrate this win in the Dome." She also thanked the cheerleaders-- sponsored by Susan Lockwood-- and members of the band for all that they did to contribute to this championship season. In his remarks, Coach Crews congratulated the team as the hardest working team he has ever had the fortune to coach. He echoed Ms. Dees, saying, "This championship season was a tremendous effort on the behalf of so many people... This really was something special for the entire community."

Board reviews policy work from past year
It is the practice of the Gwinnett County Board of Education to require an ongoing audit of Board policies and administrative procedures that serve as operational guidelines for the school system. 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. A review of the Board's policy work from the past year shows that three new policies were written, reviewed, and adopted; 14 polices were revised, reviewed, and adopted; three new procedures were written, reviewed, and approved; and 26 procedures were revised, reviewed, and approved.

Board updated on Vision for Public Education in Georgia
As part of its afternoon worksession, the Board received an update on the "Vision for Public Education in Georgia" from Chief of Staff Berney Kirkland. The presentation was a follow up to information shared at last month's Board meeting. This state initiative is a joint venture of the Georgia School Boards Association and the Georgia School Superintendents Association. A planning team composed of 31 superintendents and school board members worked for more than a year reviewing research, hearing from national experts in a variety of education-related fields, and studying best practices in coming up with 45 recommendations in seven component areas. In today's update on this initiative, Mrs. Kirkland shared district activities concerning dissemination and review of the vision project documents and the 45 recommendations. For more about the "Vision" project, go to http://www.visionforpubliced.org/.

Board continues updates to policies
The Board approved the following policies which had been tabled at the December meeting to allow for public input:
Policy BH- Board Members Code of Ethics-- Changes were made to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes and with mandates in state and/or federal law.
Policy BCAB- School Board Meetings--
Changes to this policy align it with improvements in system processes and with mandates in state and/or federal law.
Policy BHA- Board Member Conflict of Interest--
Changes to this policy align it with improvements in system processes and with mandates in state and/or federal law.

The Board tabled the following policies to allow for public input:
Policy IDCA- Summer School-- Changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.
Policy DCKI- Annual Operating Budget-- Changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.
Policy DA- Fiscal Management Goals-- Changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes and with revisions to generally accepted accounting principles.

Citizens addressing the Board
- Laura Spencer, Ivy Creek ES
- Johnathan Bryan