GCPS Board Meeting Summary for February 9, 2012

The following are highlights of the February 9, 2012, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. Board members present included Board Chairman Louise Radloff, Vice Chairman Carole Boyce, Dr. Robert McClure, and Dr. Mary Kay Murphy. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.

Board recognizes schools
- Board members saluted Level Creek ES on its designation as a 2011 Georgia School of Excellence in Student Achievement. State Superintendent Dr. John Barge formally announced the school as a state winner in December. Level Creek was one of 26 honored schools (two for each congressional district) selected for showing greatest improvement or highest achievement in the state. Dr. Nancy Kiel, principal, expressed her gratitude for her staff and the work they do, day in and day out, to educate the students of Level Creek. Dr. Kiel was accompanied by assistant principals Helen Morris and Cindy Newman.
- Gwinnett School Board members congratulated 35 Gwinnett schools on their recognition as a 2010-11 Single Statewide Accountability System Award winner. This award from the Governor's Office of Student Achievement and the Georgia Department of Education recognizes schools for their continuous improvement in raising student achievement and closing achievement gaps on state curriculum tests and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status. The schools were recognized in two categories: Highest Performance and Greatest Gains. In each category, the state recognizes four award levels: Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Click here for a list of this year's honorees.

School Board thanks PTA, proclaiming Feb. 17 as PTA Day in GCPS
In February of each year, the Board adopts a proclamation honoring the Gwinnett County PTA in conjunction with the anniversary of the National PTA's founding in February 1897. In doing so, the Board of Education acknowledges the PTA as a valued partner in the district's quest to become a system of world-class schools. Gwinnett's three area PTA Councils and the local school PTA units-- comprising one of the largest PTA memberships in the nation-- have distinguished themselves as respected advocates for children, families, and public education in Gwinnett County. Georgia PTA District 12 Director and Collins Hill HS PTSA Co-President Carol Ranft was accompanied by a number of PTA leaders from across the county. She introduced Mary Coughlin, treasurer of Area I Gwinnett Council of PTAs; Beth Horn, co-president of Area II Gwinnett Council of PTAs; and local unit leaders-- Ann Meyer, president of the Peachtree Ridge HS PTSA; Cassie Bondon, president of the Mason ES PTA; and Denise Hatmacher, co-president of the Hull MS PTSA. The PTA representatives accepted the Board's thanks on behalf of Gwinnett's PTA membership.

Board of Education reviews new electoral districts
As a result of the 2010 U.S. Census, the electoral districts for members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education were required to be changed. New proposed maps were drawn by the Gwinnett legislative delegation and submitted to the U.S. Justice Department for approval. The maps received Justice Department approval in January and will go into effect beginning with the 2012 election cycle. The change in Board district lines does not affect attendance zones for schools or boundaries for clusters. Click here to review the maps and additional information on this topic.

GCPS hosts accreditation visit
Gwinnett County Public Schools recently concluded its Quality Assurance Review (QAR) with AdvancED for district accreditation. District accreditation supports a systemic approach to achieving results through improvement. It is an integrated process that supports accountability requirements and serves to strengthen efforts to meet such requirements, providing recognition for the system and its schools, students, teachers, and the community. During the three-day visit, the QAR team interviewed 1,002 stakeholders (parents, teachers, community members, and staff) and visited 246 classrooms. During an oral exit interview, the QAR team commended the district on its strong, stable leadership team whose members use the district's vision as a catalyst for change. The team also cited evidence of strategic thinking, planning, and action across all divisions. In addition, the district earned kudos for ensuring that relevant staff development serves as the foundation for all improvement efforts. The team asked the district to continue work on its interim assessments, to increase integration of instructional technology in all content areas, and to develop an encompassing and inclusive process for stakeholders to review system fundamental documents, such as the district's vision and the Board's core beliefs. The team closed its report with a recommendation that the district maintain its accreditation, indicating the district was rated at the highest-possible level in five of the seven standards reviewed. GCPS leaders will receive a written report within 10 business days from AdvancED regarding the recommendation.

Gwinnett celebrates Black History Month
Dr. Debbie Daniell, director of Social Studies, shared a variety of ways Gwinnett schools are celebrating the contributions of African Americans as part of the district's Black History Month celebration. Class activities include presentations, research, and activities that focus on famous African Americans. Students in elementary, middle, and high schools in Gwinnett also had the opportunity to participate in "The Dream Art Contest." Additionally, through the district's Teaching American History Grant, many professional learning opportunities have been afforded Gwinnett's high school teachers. Dr. Daniell reminded Board members that the teaching of the contributions of African Americans is incorporated throughout the year according to the district's AKS curriculum and instructional calendar, meaning that students are not limited to learning about the historical contributions of African Americans during February alone... it is something that occurs throughout the school year.

Board members discuss STEM education initiative
Mary Elizabeth Davis, executive director of Curriculum and Instruction, shared the current status and future development of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education in GCPS. She shared examples of STEM efforts currently found in Gwinnett schools. For example, at the elementary school level, STEM initiatives include science and engineering labs and science specials. Middle school examples include the STEP Academy at Sweetwater MS, accelerated courses in math and science, the addition of digital content, and engineering connections courses. Examples found at the high school level include Biotechnology courses at five high schools, engineering pathways, a calculus course taught in conjunction with Georgia Tech, and science content embedded in technical education classes. In addition, robotics courses and clubs, the district's Regional Science and Engineering Fair and Career Expo planned for Feb. 24, math and science staff development for teachers, and the district's work with the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center are additional ways GCPS promotes student learning and interest in these STEM areas.

Board names Shiloh HS field house in honor of Tom Marley
The Gwinnett County Board of Education approved Shiloh HS' request to name the school's field house in honor of community member and extraordinary school volunteer Tom Marley. The recommendation for the naming of the facility originated from the school's administration, local school council, Shiloh Community Foundation, and Shiloh HS Touchdown Club, and has garnered support from the school's community. Mr. Marley has served the Shiloh community for many years, supporting academic and athletic programs at the school.