GCPS Board Meeting Summary for December 8, 2005

The following are highlights of the December 8, 2005, 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 recognizes students, teachers, and schools
-- The School Board recognized several Title I schools that were honored as Title I Distinguished Schools. Annistown ES, G.H. Hopkins ES, and Kanoheda ES have made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for four consecutive years. As a result of this recognition, which is authorized in Section 1117 of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, these schools will receive a certificate of recognition, grant funds, and in invitation to the Georgia Department of Education Schools of Excellence Celebration. The Board also honored Benefield ES, Bethesda ES, Cedar Hill ES, Lawrenceville ES, Lilburn ES, Nesbit ES, Norcross ES, Peachtree ES, and Susan Stripling ES. These schools were recognized as Title I Distinguished Schools that have made AYP for three consecutive years. All of the Title I Distinguished School honorees will serve as models for schools identified for improvement with similar demographics. Kanoheda ES Principal Terry Watlington addressed the Board on behalf of the Title I Distinguished Schools. She attributed the success of their schools to several key factors: wonderful, dedicated faculty members; the establishment of specific goals in the areas of math, reading, and English/language arts and strategies identified to reach those goals; a focus on teaching and learning that monitors student achievement and provides critical professional development for staff; full implementation of the AKS-CQI model; the use of best practices of learning-focused schools; and increased parental involvement and the role each school's Parent Center plays in supporting student learning.
-- Board members honored the Parkview HS Boys Cross Country Team on their state championship season. Dr. Charles "Buck" Buchanan, principal of Parkview HS, introduced Coach James Tigue, who is a 1994 Parkview HS graduate himself. In expressing his pride in his team's accomplishment, Coach Tigue applauded the excellent competition they faced in Gwinnett's other cross country teams. Team members include Sophomores Marcelis Lynch, Josh Pinson, and Brett Richardson; Juniors Marcus Lostracco and Michael Winston; and Seniors Tyler Jackson, Patrick Ollinger, David Reeves, and Daniel Stallings.
-- The Board saluted the Girls Cross Country Team from Collins Hill HS, the 2005-06 AAAAA State Champions. Principal Glenn McFall thanked the School Board for its support of extracurricular activities. Coach Andrew Hudson expressed his appreciation for the many different people, including parents and staff, who contributed to this championship season. Coach Hudson called this year's team his most consistent, citing their spotless record against state competition. The team included five all-county runners, and three all-state runners, and one team member who was named "State Runner of the Year." Team members include Freshman Allyson McGinty; Sophomore Hilary Hamby; Juniors Jackie Drouin and Erin Guglielmo; and Seniors Alexis Nichols, Heather Raines, and Alyson Tice.
-- Kudos also were extended to Collins Hill HS on the 2005-06 state championship earned by the Girls Softball Team. Principal Glenn McFall applauded the efforts of his school's team, which is led by Head Coach Amy Cook. Coach Cook, a graduate of Brookwood HS, has experienced tremendous success as the team's coach. In introducing her team, she highlighted both team and individual success, including one team member being named Georgia HS Player of the Year. Team members include Sophomores Erin Collins, Caroline Cooper, Kellie Edmondson, Lindsay Ellenburg, Catherine Palmer, and Kathleen Pulliam; Juniors Ellen Black, Angela Clay, Katie Fidler, Carmen Fowler, Libby Munson, Kara Pollock, and Rebecca Roles; and Seniors Amber Baylor, Michelle Broderick, Shelley Jenkins, Jessica Martin, Tamara Perkins, and Sam Peters.
-- The Board honored four GCPS employees who earned top honors from the Georgia School Counseling Association. Those honored include Margaret Ackerman, the principal of Meadowcreek ES, who was named Georgia School Counseling Advocate of the Year; Kay Holleman of Peachtree Ridge HS, who is Georgia's High School Counselor of the Year; Brenda Zellner of Freeman’s Mill ES, who is the State Elementary School Counselor of the Year; and Gina Vines of North Gwinnett HS, the Georgia Writer of the Year. Peers of these four employees spoke highly of each of these individuals and the contributions they have made to the counseling profession and to the advisement of students.

2nd annual Principal for a Day event proves to be huge success
Gwinnett County business and education leaders teamed up in November during the “Principal for a Day” program, co-sponsored by GCPS and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. Throughout the week, 46 business leaders worked alongside Gwinnett school principals for a day. Berney Kirkland, executive director to the CEO/Superintendent, briefed School Board members on the successful event, sharing examples of the enthusiastic comments received from business and principal participants. Comments from business leaders ranged from "What a great opportunity to see firsthand the role of principal" to "Very informative, encouraging and humbling... It gave me great insight on how our educators are continually having to reinvent their job to meet the needs of students." Principals also responded positively saying what a great opportunity this was to share their programs with influential leaders and how much they enjoyed discussing the similarities between their jobs.

Special Education Department earns state recognition
Gwinnett County Public Schools was recognized by the Georgia Council for Administrators of Special Education as a state leader for its outstanding efforts to improve the performance of students with disabilities. Data from the 2004-05 school year was the basis for this award, which recognizes systems that increase the percentage of students who meet or exceed state achievement standards. Mr. Wilbanks and the Board commended the Special Education Department for the great job they do.

Support staff moving into Instructional Support Center
Staff updated the Board on the status of the move into the Instructional Support Center (ISC), a former manufacturing warehouse that has been renovated to house system administrative and support staff. Employees from four existing facilities are moving into the new facility in a coordinated move which began this past week. Building 100 will be completely occupied in early January. Chief of Staff Bobby Crowson shared with Board members that the move-in for Building 200 will occur ahead of schedule with staff moving in February 1. The School Board will hold its first meeting of 2006 at the new facility, which is located at 437 Old Peachtree Road in Suwanee.

Board approves redistricting recommendation
School Board members approved redistricting recommendations regarding the Brookwood and Meadowcreek clusters. In the Brookwood Cluster, the new attendance lines will result in 220 students moving from Gwin Oaks ES to Craig ES, 90 students moving from Gwin Oaks ES to Brookwood ES, and 70 students moving from R.D. Head ES to Gwin Oaks ES. The changes in the Meadowcreek Cluster will move approximately 90 students from Rockbridge ES to Nesbit ES, and 60 students from Rockbridge ES to Lilburn ES. An inclusive process allowed GCPS to gather input from educators, parents, and community members on the proposed district line revisions. Boundary recommendations were based on current enrollment, enrollment forecasts, enrollment history, existing identifiable boundaries, the locations of the schools, and student transportation.

Resolution regarding construction sales tax notes approved
To prepare for the sale of construction sales tax notes in 2006, the Board approved a resolution authorizing staff to publicize the pending sale of the notes and to seek bids for their purchase. The Board will not take action on the actual sale of the construction notes until February. The resolution allows staff to take the necessary action to issue tax-exempt construction sales tax notes in the approximate amount of $200 million. They serve as a temporary loan for cash-flow purposes in anticipation of the receipt of sales taxes in the year 2006.

Board members adopt reimbursement resolution
The School Board adopted a resolution authorizing the Board to use its FY2006 General Fund, if necessary, to retire the sales tax notes for construction that were issued in January 2005. The resolution, which is required by the Internal Revenue Service, will allow the Board to cover any shortfall, up to $200 million, until the 2006 construction sales tax notes can be issued. If the General Fund is used, the money will be reimbursed out of proceeds from the 2006 notes once they are issued in February 2006.

Daniel D. Seckinger (District II) honored as outgoing School Board chair
CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks and the members of the School Board expressed appreciation for Daniel Seckinger and his leadership as the 2005 chair of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. Mr. Wilbanks commended Mr. Seckinger on his leadership and the role he played in several strategic decisions that have benefitted the school system and the students it serves.

Superintendent’s contract amended and extended through June 30, 2008
After completing the annual evaluation of CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks, the Gwinnett County Board of Education voted unanimously to amend Mr. Wilbanks' current contract as follows: Beginning January 1, 2006, through June 30, 2006, the superintendent's total compensation will be his current base salary of $218,750, plus a cost-of-living increase of 4.4 percent, which equals the average increase for teachers in the FY06 Budget. The new base salary will be $228,375. The amended contract includes an 8 percent increase in his current transportation allowance and a 7.5 percent increase in his current expense allowance. The Board's contributions to the Teachers Retirement System and Gwinnett Retirement System will remain at 5 percent and 1 percent, respectively, as prescribed by the approved formula for these retirement systems. The total compensation package for January 1, 2006, through June 30, 2006, as amended, would be based on an annualized salary of $276,422.
The Board also voted unanimously to renew Mr. Wilbanks' contract for another two years.The contract renewal begins July 1, 2006, and extends to June 30, 2008. Local legislation limits a Gwinnett County school superintendent's contract to two years. Under the new contract, beginning July 1, 2006, and each July 1 thereafter, the superintendent's compensation package provides for a cost-of-living adjustment in the base salary equal to the average salary increase for teachers approved in the FY2007 and FY2008 budgets, respectively. It also provides for continuation of the transportation and expense allowances and the retirement contributions, as set forth in the amended contract. Mr. Wilbanks' current and new contracts also include health and medical benefits as provided for other system employees; vacation and sick leave earned at the same rate as other personnel; travel costs and registration fees for attendance at conferences, seminars, and workshops deemed beneficial to the system; and membership in relevant professional and community organizations.
Mr. Wilbanks has served as CEO/Superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools since March 1996. He is the longest-sitting superintendent in the country among school systems with more than 100,000 students.

Board continues update of policies
The Board tabled the following policy in order to receive public input on it prior to the January Board meeting.
- Policy KM – Visitors to Schools-- The proposed new policy complies with new requirements in state law.

Citizens and groups addressing the Board
James Ellington
Reid Laurens
Marcus Spencer
Michael B. Heisler