GCPS Board Meeting Summary for March 13, 2008

The following are highlights of the March 13, 2008, 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 salutes schools, students, committee members for their support of schools
-- The Gwinnett County Board of Education publicly thanked the members of Gwinnett Kids Count, a group of citizens who spearheaded the campaign to pass the recent general obligation (GO) bond referendum. The measure, which appeared on the February 5 ballot, sought voter approval to sell up to $750 million in bonds to finance continued classroom construction and technology upgrades. The bond referendum was approved with a "yes" vote of more than 73%. Board members praised the efforts of the group for support of Gwinnett County Public Schools and the work they have done that benefits students.
-- Board members honored the Collins Hill HS Wrestling Team for its success in 2008. The team earned top honors as the AAAAA State Duals Champions and AAAAA State Traditional Champions. With a previous win in 2002, this marks the second time Collins Hill has won the state duals championship. This is the third traditional wresting championship for Collins Hill HS, with wins in 2002 and 2005. The team is coached by Head Coach Cliff Ramos and assistant coaches Jim Gassman and Jim Tiller.
-- Jessica Morton, a 5th grader at Sugar Hill ES, earned a nod from the School Board for winning top state honors in the InvestWrite Essay Contest, sponsored by the Foundation for Investor Education. The national InvestWrite essay competition is open to any student playing the Stock Market Game, an economic education and financial literary program. The InvestWrite essay competition relates to investment principles linked to the Georgia Stock Market Game program, tying together various lessons throughout the curriculum and adding a critical-thinking component to reinforce concepts taught in the classroom. In the essay, students make a case for a particular investment strategy. Students participate in three grade divisions. Student essays are selected by the teachers who forward the top five essays per class. Not only did Jessica place first in Georgia, but she also placed 10th in the nation from the 1,203 essays submitted. Jessica will be recognized at the annual Stock Market Game Awards Luncheon in May by the Georgia Council on Economic Education. Mary Lou O’Rouke is Jessica's teacher.
-- Kate Hardin, a senior at Parkview HS, was honored for her recognition as Georgia German Student of the Year. Each year, the Georgia Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German selects a student of the year based on nominations received by teachers. As this year's winner, Kate will have the opportunity to participate in a three-week study course at the Goethe Institute in Germany, sponsored by The German Cultural Center in Atlanta. This win marks the second consecutive year that a Parkview HS student has won this award. Sanja Knezovic is the German teacher at Parkview HS.
--The Board of Education saluted Mary Lynn Huie and Susan Henderson, both teachers at Parkview HS, for their respective recognitions by the Georgia Council of Teachers of English (GCTE) as 2008 High School Teacher of the Year and 2008 High School Teacher of the Year Runner-up. Board members also recognized Richelle Wildman of Margaret Winn Holt ES for her selection as GCTE Elementary Language Arts Teacher of the Year. GCTE, an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English, is a nonprofit organization made up primarily of teachers of English, reading, and literacy at Georgia's elementary, middle and secondary schools, and colleges and universities.
-- The following Margaret Winn Holt ES students were honored by the Board of Education for earning perfect scores in the Blue Division of The WordMasters Challenge: Susannah Speagle, 4th grade student; Carolina Hinojosa, 5th grade student; and Chelsea Murphy, 5th grade student. The WordMasters Challenge has been administered for the past 21 years and is dedicated to inspiring high achievement in American schools. The competition is a national vocabulary challenge in which students study a predetermined set of words and all of their variants followed by participation in the pencil and paper challenge. This year more than 230,000 students participated nationwide. Of that number, only 109 4th graders and 189 5th graders earned perfect scores. The three students being recognized earned perfect scores in the Blue Division, one of the more difficult levels of competition. Rhonda McBride is the sponsor for the program and a teacher at Margaret Winn Holt ES.
-- Grayson HS' Technology Education Program earned recognition as a 2008 National Program of Excellence, one of the highest awards presented by the International Technology Education Association (ITEA) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). This award specifically honors outstanding programs that have made contributions to the engineering and technology fields. Instruction in this program is delivered through a project-based learning environment and focuses on the relationships between math and science and all fields of engineering and technology. Students in this program are taught to solve problems using engineering design techniques and industry-based software. This award was presented last month at the 70th Annual ITEA Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Charles Kachmar, technology and engineering instructor, leads the program at Grayson HS.
-- Misty Ann Pickenbrock of Margaret Winn Holt ES and Patsy Robinson of Trickum MS were honored as 2008 Georgia VFW Citizenship Education Teachers of the Year by the Veterans of Foreign Wars at their respective levels. These titles are awarded to Georgia teachers who teach citizenship education topics regularly, building a sense of pride, and promoting social responsibility in America's youth. Ms. Pickenbrock was saluted for her patriotic lessons which focused on letter writing to a soldier stationed in Iraq and participation in Veterans’ Day activities. Ms. Robinson's recognition was tied to her creation of an entire unit on the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Ms. Pickenbrock joined the Margaret Winn Holt ES staff in September 2005 and has taught 3rd grade during her tenure there. Ms. Robinson, an 8th grade teacher, has devoted more than 20 years of her life to shaping America's future via educational experiences for thousands of children during her career.
-- Board members saluted Simonton ES for its selection as a winner of the 2008 High Flying Schools Award, presented by the National Youth-At-Risk Conference. The school was one of four in the nation so honored. Dr. Dot Schoeller, principal of Simonton ES, was recently presented this award as well as $1,500 for the school at a recent conference in Savannah, Georgia. The award honors those schools that meet six criteria—high performance, high minority, high poverty, community involvement, citizenship, and democratic values. At the conference, Dr. Schoeller shared the success of Simonton ES’ intellectually empowering educational environment with others who work with at-risk youth.

Staff members brief Board of Education on advisement program
The student advisement program for Gwinnett middle and high schools has been the focus of intensive revitalization, staff development, and focus for the 2007-08 school year. Director of Counseling and Advisement Dianne Thompson provided Board members with information on the program, which works to ensure that each student has an adult in his or her school who guides, mentors, and builds a relationship that supports student engagement in the learning process and ultimate success in school. With the assistance of Dr. Colin Martin, executive director of Research and Evaluation, and Dr. Jim Appleton, coordinator of Research and Evaluation, Mrs. Thompson highlighted the progress of the program and how future success will be determined.

Board members learn about Advanced Placement opportunities
Staff members made a report to Board members about the school district's efforts to increase the number of students participating in Advanced Placement courses and exams through effective leadership and strategies at the high school and system levels. Gwinnett County Public Schools has seen a 94% increase in AP course segments offered over the past six years. Additionally, the district has experienced a 34% increase in enrollment in AP courses. The presentation, made by Area Superintendent Delores Hendrix and Dr. Gale Hey, executive director of academic achievement, was originally shared at the College Board Regional Conference in Hilton Head, South Carolina, in February. Mrs. Hendrix and Dr. Hey will present this information again at the Georgia College Board Conference in Atlanta.

Board approves instructional materials
In compliance with local policy and state rules, GCPS recently conducted an instructional materials review in the areas of mathematics (grades K-9) and social studies (grades K-5). All materials were piloted in classrooms during Fall 2007. In addition, a review was completed for materials for two Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology courses (Engineering and Chinese). Health materials and materials for Maxwell High School of Technology also were approved by the Community Health Advisory Committee (CHEAC) as required. The Board of Education adopted the proposed instructional materials for these areas as recommended. This adoption will have a financial impact of $23,306,594 for the 2008-09 school year.

Gwinnett acknowledges Georgia School Board Appreciation Week
The Georgia School Boards Association has proclaimed March 17-21, 2008, as School Board Appreciation Week in Georgia.
CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks recognized the members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education for their service on behalf of the students, employees, and citizen stakeholders of Gwinnett County Public Schools in conjunction with School Board Appreciation Week in Georgia.

Board member travel approved for GSBA events
The Board designated District III Representative Dr. Mary Kay Murphy and District I Representative Carole Boyce as its representatives to the 2008 Georgia School Boards Association's Summer Conference and Delegate Assembly in Savannah, Georgia. Each GSBA member school district selects one delegate to vote on its behalf in the Delegate Assembly, and one alternate. In addition, the Board approved travel for District V Representative Louise Radloff, along with Dr. Murphy, to attend the Governmental Operations Committee meeting in Dublin, Georgia.

School Board continues its policy work
School Board members approved the following policies which were tabled at the February meeting to allow for further input:
Policy IB- Academic Knowledge and Skills Curriculum-- The title of this policy has been changed from “Instructional Goals and Objectives.” Changes also align it with improvements in system processes and with mandates in state and/or federal law.
Policy IDBA- Comprehensive School Health and PE Program Plan-- The descriptor code has been changed from IDB. Changes align it with improvements in system processes.
Policy IDCA-- Summer School-- Changes align it with improvements in system processes.
Policy IEA-- Grouping for Instruction-- Changes align it with improvements in system processes.
Policy IKD-- Ceremonies and Observances-- Minor changes align it with improvements in system processes.
Policy JAA-- Equal Educational Opportunities-- Minor changes align it with improvements in system processes and with mandates in state and/or federal law.
Policy IED-- Hardship Waivers-- This new policy has been created to reflect improvements in system processes.
Policy JBCB-- Acceptance of Transfer Credits-- This new policy reflects improvements in system processes.
The following policies were rescinded:
Policy IFA-- Instructional Material (Copyright)-- The contents of this policy are already addressed in Procedure P.IFAA “Instructional Materials Selection.”
Policy IKB-- Controversial Issues-- The contents of this policy have been incorporated into the new Procedure P.IKB “Classroom Discussions of Controversial Issues.”
School Board members tabled the following policies to allow for further input:
Policy BBFA- Local School Councils-- The title of this policy has been changed from “School Councils (Advisory Committees)” and the descriptor code has been changed from BBF. Changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes and with mandates in state and/or federal law.
Policy DFN- Fixed/Capital Asset Management-- The title of this policy has been changed from “Property & Textbook Control.” Changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.
Policy DJE- Purchasing-- Minor changes have been proposed to this policy to align it with improvements in system processes.