GCPS Board Meeting Summary for April 18, 2013

The following are highlights of the April 18, 2013, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. Board members present included Chairman Carole Boyce, Vice Chairman Daniel Seckinger, Dr. Robert McClure, Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, and Louise Radloff. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.

School Board honors students and schools
-- The Gwinnett County Board of Education congratulated
Dr. Charlotte Sadler, principal of Parsons ES, on her receipt of the Administrative Support of Foreign Languages Award from the Foreign Language Association of Georgia (FLAG). This award recognizes a dean, superintendent, principal, or other administrator who has evidenced strong and overt support for foreign languages. Dr. Sadler has offered a Spanish "special" at Parsons ES for several years and she goes above and beyond to support the program.

-- School Board members congratulated Alexander Barron of Norcross HS on his recognition as the 2013 Georgia High School Spanish Student of the Year by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. The honoree must be enrolled in an upper level Spanish class and demonstrate a commitment to Spanish beyond the normal realm of study. Mr. Barron has demonstrated this through a wide variety of service projects as well as placing at the highest levels on the National Spanish Exam for several years.

-- The Board of Education saluted Patty Lindahl, a theatre arts teacher at Brookwood HS, on her induction into the Georgia Thespians Hall of Fame. Mrs. Lindahl was recognized by the Georgia Thespians at the group's state conference in Columbus for her dedication to theatre education for more than 20 years. In her introduction, Principal Debbie Dees spoke of Mrs. Lindahl's ability to excite students, instilling in them a passion for learning and acting. Dees closed her remarks by sharing that Mrs. Lindahl is retiring at the end of the month and saying "She is an inspiration to the Brookwood community and very deserving of this honor."

-- As part of tonight's recognitions, Board members applauded several seniors who received scholarships sponsored by Peach State Federal Credit Union. Araybia Jenkins of Central Gwinnett HS and Justiyce Yvonne Walker of Shiloh HS are the 2013 recipients of the Louise Radloff Scholarship. This year, the scholarship provides will go to two Gwinnett County high school seniors who have overcome a significant challenge in order to graduate and who have a desire to pursue postsecondary study. This fund was established in 2004 by Gwinnett Federal Credit Union (now known as Peach State Federal Credit Union) to honor the service of Gwinnett County Board of Education member Louise Radloff, and in recognition of her tireless work on behalf of those most in need. The amount of the 2013 Louise Radloff Scholarship award for each recipient is $2,500.

-- In addition, Peach State Federal Credit Union and the Gwinnett County Board of Education congratulated Natalia Mejia of Collins Hill HS and Christina Valentini of Norcross HS on their selection as the 2013 winners of the J. Alvin Wilbanks Scholarship. This scholarship was established in 2007 by then-Gwinnett Federal Credit Union in honor of the more than four decades of service to public education by CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks, and in recognition of his leadership as superintendent since 1996, guiding the district to state and national prominence. It provides a one-time scholarship to outstanding GCPS seniors who plan to pursue a career in education.  Each of this year's recipients will receive a one-time $2,500 scholarship.

-- In other scholarship news, the School Board honored Ellen Marie McCuiston of Brookwood HS on her recognition as the 2013 Dr. Barbara Reed Science Scholarship winner. This scholarship, named after a former GCPS educator and science coordinator, is a one-time award of $500 to a student who exhibits good character and leadership skills, who maintained a 3.0 GPA, and who has a desire to enter the science field.

-- Brett Self of Archer HS earned kudos from the Board on his selection as this year's recipient of the King Memorial Mathematics Scholarship. The King Memorial Mathematics Scholarship was established in 2013 in honor of mathematics instructor and former GCPS Mathematics Coordinator William King. It is a one-time award of $500 to a graduating GCPS senior with financial need, who has an interest in mathematics and a desire to pursue a mathematics-related field.

-- Kudos to the Science Olympiad teams from Brookwood HS and Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology (GSMST) on their respective 1st and 2nd place finishes in state competition. Science Olympiad is a competition in which a team of 15 students competes in 23 events covering the major branches of science and engineering. Many of these events require students to complete a college-level laboratory analysis while using the same techniques as practicing professionals. Several events require devices to be built to exacting specifications prior to the competition. All events require students to work as a team in order to successfully complete the challenging tasks. The members of the Brookwood HS team include Nicholas Bond, Joseph Calicchio, Gregory Cooke, Emma DeJarnette, Justin Dumrongkulraksa, Neil Goel, Laboni Hoque, Joseph Lee, Luke Matkovic, Kathryn McKibben, Vamsi Reddy, Emily Ruengvivatpant, Adarsh Suresh, Susan Zhang, and Corey Zheng. The team is coached by Joe Cox, Martha Brick, Jorge Diaz, Josh Farrell, and Dan Miller. GSMST team members include Brian Barr, Max Bires, Jordan Bogdan, Ryan Clark, Rachel Cooper, Stephanie Diaz, Kevin Edwards, Jamie Freeland, Peter John, Stephanie Moon, Shannon Nguyen, David Park, Viral Shah, Mark Wang, and Mike Wang. The GSMST coaches are Patricia Caldwell and Dr. Susan Kramer.

-- Nearly 25 Gwinnett students earned a 1st or 2nd place finish at the Georgia Junior & Senior Science & Engineering Fair, which features the research of middle and high school students in the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering.  Students qualified for the state competition by placing 1st at the regional Gwinnett Science & Engineering Fair earlier in the year. Gwinnett's top finishers in the state competition were:

-- The Board honored teams from Berkmar HS and Parkview HS on their successful seasons which resulted in the teams being named the 2013 Georgia Academic Decathlon Co-Champions. Annually, the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) Foundation sponsors the Georgia Academic Decathlon competition. Approximately 200 high school students from 22 high schools, representing 13 school districts, competed in the 2013 Academic Decathlon. During the competition, students were tested in seven content areas: economics, art, language and literature, mathematics, science, social science, and music. In addition, students earned points individually in three communication events: public speaking, a personal interview, and a written essay. Each team was made up of nine members. The program features a different overall curriculum topic each year. This year’s topic was “Russia.” Berkmar HS team members are Fahim Choudhury, Alexander Guzman, Wala Hassan, Hai Huynh, Stefan Lolic, Danielle Missick, Mati Nemera, Emerson Salmeron-Rubio, and Quang Tran. The Berkmar team is coached by Christopher Pae. Parkview HS team members are Viktoria Domashchenko, Jude Gebert, Mitchell Graham, Larry He, Owen Henderson, Christian Jackson, Sean Mbogo, Christopher Rogers, and Robert Andrew Welser. The Parkview team is coached by Melodie Carr, Rachel Granade, and Dave Steele. The two Gwinnett teams now will participate in the National Academic Decathlon Competition to be held April 25-27 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Accompanying the team members and coaches at tonight's meeting were Dr. Michael Zinn, principal of Berkmar HS, and David Smith, principal of Parkview HS, as well as Cary Sell, a Parkview HS science teacher who serves as the state director of the Georgia Academic Decathlon, and Amy Hammond, a Parkview teacher who serves as Gwinnett County's Academic Decathlon coordinator.

-- Members of the Board also honored four state championship teams that hail from Gwinnett County schools. Following are those winning teams and the schools they represent:
  • Archer HS' Wrestling Team is the 2013 AAAAAA state champion in both Traditional Wrestling and Dual Wrestling. This is the first dual and traditional wrestling state championship earned by the school. Activities Director Tim Watkins congratulated the team on its success. The team is coached by Head Coach Tom Beuglas and assistant coaches Kyle McKee and Keith Jannett.
  • Parkview HS' Boys Swim and Dive Team is the 2013 AAAAAA Boys Swim and Dive Team state champion. This is the team's 10th state championship. Principal David Smith and Activities Director Mark Whitley congratulated the team on continuing this great tradition. The team is coached by Jack Gayle and Eric Brown.
  • Norcross HS earned kudos for its basketball program which captured both the AAAAAA Girls and Boys state basketball championships. This is the third state championship in the last four years earned by the Norcross HS Girls Basketball Team which is coached by Angie Hembree. She is assisted by Jay Nebel, Tamara Brooks, Joe Padgett, and DeAndrea Bullock. As for the Norcross HS Boys Basketball Team, this is the fifth state championship earned in the last eight years. Norcross' Boys Basketball Program is led by Head Coach Jesse McMillan and assistant coaches Travis Chapman, Cory Cason, Reggie Anderson II, and Mike Artis.

    Board adopts instructional materials
    The Board approved instructional materials for mathematics in grades 6-12 and non-fiction language arts materials for grades K-5. These materials are aligned to the AKS and to the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards. In addition, supplemental materials were approved by the Community Health Education Advisory Committee (CHEAC) as required. This core materials adoption will cost $6,819,470.

    Board approves amendment to IE2 Partnership Contract
    In January of 2009, the Gwinnett County Board of Education received approval from the State Board of Education for the district's IE2 Partnership Contract with the State Department of Education. Gwinnett's IE2 Partnership Contract, including the strategic plan and all school plans, provides the local schools and school district with flexibility from 13 laws and accompanying State Board of Education rules. This flexibility is coupled with accountability measures which were identified for each school that call for schools to meet annual performance targets for the five years of the contract. Since the contract was approved, a number of factors have changed, including the addition of new schools and changes in the state graduation rule that call for the Georgia High School Graduation Tests to be replaced by End of Course Tests (EOCT). GCPS has developed an amendment to the initial contract which will be submitted to the State Board of Education for approval. The amendment provides achievement targets for 17 new schools that have opened since the fall of 2009 and ensures the contracts for the high schools are relevant, based on changes to the state graduation rule and the transition to EOCTs. Click here to review the amendment and the school plans.

    Board continues updates to policies
    The following policy was approved by the Board:
    - Policy JCD- Student Conduct Behavior Code-- Approved changes to this policy align it with improvements in system processes and with mandates in state and federal law.

    Intergovernmental agreement approved
    The Gwinnett Board of Education approved an intergovernmental agreement between the Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner and the School Board. The new agreement is required for the collection and distribution of the new Title Ad Valorem Tax that became effective March 1, 2013.