GCPS Board Meeting Summary for May 11, 2006

The following are highlights of the May 11, 2006, 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 teams
-- Lilburn ES administrators, faculty and staff, students and their families were commended by Board members for the school’s selection as the Georgia School of Excellence (SOE) for Congressional District 13, one of 20 schools in the state recognized this year. Lilburn ES was selected for showing the greatest gains for student achievement in reading/language arts and math over three years. The SOE program recognizes schools that show significant improvement as well as those with performance in the top 10% of schools. In each congressional district, one winner is selected in each of the two categories from among qualifying schools. While the data-driven selection model has test scores as its foundation, it also looks at No Child Left Behind status, staff qualifications, and safety records. Schools must have at least five years in operation and can only be named a SOE once every five years. Principal Jackie Beasley was accompanied by Assistant Principals Jean Millirons, Wandy Taylor, and Tracey Halama, Lilburn ES Teacher of the Year Malissa Chambry, and Jenny Nall, the school's reading specialist. In accepting accolades from the Board, Mrs. Beasley acknowledged her amazing staff and school community and thanked the superintendent for placing her at Lilburn ES, saying she knew that the school was exactly where she was meant to be.
-- The School Board honored nine GCPS students who earned perfect scores on the National Latin Exam, a multiple-choice exam taken by students in Latin I through Latin VI that tests students' knowledge of structure, syntax, vocabulary, and reading comprehension, along with understanding of Roman culture. Fewer than 1% of the more than 135,000 students who took the exam worldwide earned a perfect score. The National Latin Exam is co-sponsored by the American Classical Association and the National Junior Classical League.
Honored students include:
Latin I: Amanda Hoffman, Jonathon Laime, Tangirala Reddy, and Perrinh Savang, all of Brookwood HS
Latin II:Carolyn Booth of Brookwood HS; and Seth Herren, Kalin McHale, and Karan Patel, all of North Gwinnett HS
Latin III: Joe Fang of North Gwinnett HS, who earned a perfect score on the Latin I exam in 2005, skipped Latin II, and scored a perfect paper in Latin III Poetry
-- Board members applauded excellence in the rigorous, college-level Advanced Placement program at both the school level and by an individual student.
  • Joe Fang of North Gwinnett HS was honored by the Seimens Foundation for his outstanding achievement in Advanced Placement (AP). The Siemens Foundation partners with the College Board to recognize 100 U.S. students who achieved the highest scores on Advanced Placement exams in the areas of mathematics and science. His principal, Dr. John Green, noted that Joe is graduating this year, and will be attending MIT.
  • The Seimens Foundation recognized Duluth HS as one of 50 high schools in the nation to win the 2005-06 Siemens Award for Advanced Placement for math and science. Duluth HS is the top school in Georgia for student participation and performance in Advanced Placement studies. The Seimens Foundation and College Board salute Duluth HS and the school's AP teachers and students for their commitment to excellence. The school's Gifted and AP Program Coordinator Geri Flanary noted that the entire Duluth HS faculty promotes the value of the AP program. Next year, the school will offer 20 AP courses and 20% of students will take one or more AP classes. This week, Duluth students wrap up AP exams, with a total of 772 AP exams taken by the students. The school receives a $1,000 grant from the Foundation for this honor.
-- Parkview HS students Brandan Case, Daniel Gatch, and Brandon Smith were recognized for placing first in the Georgia Stock Market Game this spring, turning $100,000 in virtual money into more than $153,000 by trading stocks and mutual funds in the twice-yearly simulation. More than 30,000 Georgia students participate in the game, which is sponsored by the Georgia Council on Economic Education. Gary Petmecky, who teaches economics at Parkview, noted that over the years, Gwinnett teams have won the game four times, with three winning teams from Parkview.
-- Two Gwinnett science teachers were recently honored by the Georgia Science Teacher Association (GSTA). The Board commended Felicia Hester of Camp Creek ES for being named Georgia Elementary School Science Teacher of the Year for GSTA District 12. Elizabeth Michele Wills of Lanier Middle was recognized as the GSTA District 12 Middle School Science Teacher of the Year. The awards recognize excellence in the teaching of science. Ms. Hester was accompanied by her principal, Kathy Jones, who declared that she was "the best science teacher in the world" and revolutionized science instruction at her school. Principal Jaime Espinosa accepted Ms. Wills' award, as she was unable to attend, saying "She's awesome, and the kids who walk through her door are fortunate."
-- Excellence in science also earned praise from Board members for two Parkview teams:
  • The Parkview HS Science Bowl Team, coached by Teacher Steve Kuninsky, won the State Science Bowl competition in March. Ten teams from across the state were invited to compete, based on their 1st or 2nd place win at division competitions held in January. Members of the team are juniors Zane Blanton and Andrew Wilmot; and seniors Jasshan Mehrotra, Andrew McDowell, and Aradhna Seth.
  • The Parkview High Science Olympiad Team won the State Science Olympiad Championship for the fourth consecutive year. Parkview’s team will go to national competition at Indiana University later this month. Team members are 9th graders Sumi Selvaraj and Aneesha Thobani; juniors Nourine Ahmed, Ting Gou, Archana Kumar, Linda Liu, Shailini Ramachandran, Sheena Varghese, Cathy Vu, Stephanie Wang, and Hamilton Wen; and seniors Seema Jabar, Andrew McDowell, Tiffany Soo, and Tim Soo. Coaches are Phil Heier and Susan Parker, both teachers, along with Dr. Dave McDowell, a parent.
-- The School Board honored the Parkview High Band, under the direction of Allen Beach, on earning the Sudler Flag of Honor, awarded by the John Philip Sousa Foundation. Parkview is one of two bands from the United States, Canada, and Japan to be selected to receive this international honor this year, and one of only 49 school bands to be honored with the Sudler Flag in the 24 years the program has operated. The Sudler Flag is awarded to high school concert bands that have demonstrated high standards of musical excellence over many years and whose director has established and maintained an outstanding band for at least seven years. The Sudler Flag is the highest recognition afforded to a high school band. As the band director closes his 26th year with the school, Dr. Charles "Buck" Buchanan, principal, thanked Mr. Beach for his service to the school community and for returning part-time next year. Mr. Beach was accompanied by student leaders in the band: Bill Graham, band captain; and Lana Cart and Donnell Francis, drum majors.
-- Two graduating seniors received scholarships and were recognized by the Board for their accomplishments.
  • Vedat Mahmuti, a member of the South Gwinnett HS Class of 2006, was recognized as the recipient of the $2,000 Louise Radloff Scholarship, which is awarded each year to a Gwinnett senior. The scholarship was named after Louise Radloff, a longtime School Board member who is serving her ninth term with the Board. Kelly Herndon, director of recruitment, and Marshall Boutwell, President/CEO of Gwinnett Federal Credit Union, presented the scholarship, acknowledging Mr. Mahmuti and his journey from a refugee camp in Kosovo to South Gwinnett HS in Snellville. His family and members of the school staff also attended the honor celebration.
  • Ashley Daniel, a graduating senior from Grayson HS, was honored as the recipient of the Alton C. Crews Scholarship, which is awarded each year to a Gwinnett senior who plans to become a teacher in Georgia. The $3,000 scholarship was named after former Gwinnett Superintendent Dr. Alton C. Crews. Miss Daniel was accompanied by her parents, Alan and Jackie Daniel. Her mother is a special education teacher in Gwinnett. Miss Daniel plans to attend North Georgia College to become a special education teacher. In her application, she said that she is basically following in her mother's footsteps. She expresses great joy in the work she has done at Oakland School, working with special needs students.
-- Twenty-four GCPS students were 1st or 2nd place winners in statewide events in the areas of business, computer science, family and consumer science, and technology education. They earned recognition out of thousands of students throughout the state, with many qualifying to participate at the next level of competition in their respective categories:

Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) honored this Gwinnett team…
Meadowcreek HS—The team of Clemencia Elorza, Camly Nguyen, and Wazhma Sarwar, Silver Medal in Applied Technology

Award-winning participants in the state's Technology Student Association (TSA) competition include…
Collins Hill HS—Malin Hallberg, 1st Place in CAD Animation, Engineering
Grayson HS—Tommy Terrell, 1st Place in Architectural CAD 2-D; Brian Sturdevant, 2nd Place in Architectural CAD 3-D Animation; and Cody Winters, 2nd Place in Architectural CAD 3-D
Parkview HS—The team of Josh Irvin, Karim Jiwani, and Jason McGraw, 2nd Place in Cyberspace Pursuit; Brian West, 2nd Place in Technical Sketching & Application; and the team of Rigoberto Cordon and Craig Lynberg, 2nd Place in Electronic Research and Experimentation-Cyborg

Award-winning participants in the state's SkillsUSA competition include…
Maxwell HS of Technology— Cameron Burger, 1st Place in Electronics Technology; Arturo Diaz, 1st Place in Masonry; Justin Duren, 1st Place in Automotive Brakes; Stefen Jones, 1st Place in Electronics Applications; Malena Millarc, 1st Place in Healthcare Job Skill Demonstration; Samantha Reynolds, 1st Place in Preschool Teaching Assistant; Brittney Smith, 1st Place in Cosmetology; Daymar Guevara, 2nd Place in Nail Care; Katya Ramirez, 2nd Place in Nail Care Model; Celestial Staples, 2nd Place in Cosmetology; and Johnny Verdi, 2nd Place in Marine Service Technology.

In addition, Craig Lynberg of Parkview HS was elected to the post of Sergeant at Arms in the Georgia Chapter of Technology Students of America.

Naming of new elementary schools set to open in 2007
The following new elementary schools are due to open in August 2007:
-- New Dacula Cluster ES-- 442 E. Union Grove Circle in Auburn
-- New Mill Creek Cluster ES-- 2707 Kilgore Road in Buford
-- New Grayson/Dacula Cluster-- 1705 New Hope Road in Lawrenceville

To give these schools an identity, school naming committees have been formed within the cluster where the new school will be built. These committees are charged with the task of developing a list of recommended names to submit to the superintendent. These committees have already begun their work, using available research in adherence to school policy FDC, Naming New Facilities. In making their recommendations, the committees give consideration to:
  • Individuals who have made a significant social contribution (If an individual name is proposed, only the last name will symbolize the official name.)
  • Names of communities served by the school
  • Roads
  • Landmarks
  • Geographical locations in the proximity of the school
Individuals and organizations of Gwinnett County may submit names. Information on submitting names is available at the local elementary schools within the clusters where the new schools will be built. The Board is expected to vote on the Superintendent's recommendations for the new school names at its scheduled board meeting in June.

Governor's Honors Program finalists
The Governor's Honors Program (GHP) is a six-week summer instructional program designed to provide 690 intellectually gifted and artistically talented high school students in Georgia with challenging and enriching educational opportunities. Students attend the program on the campus of Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia. The summer 2006 session will be from June 11 through July 22. Students are nominated by their schools in a specific instructional area in which their abilities, aptitudes, and interests lie. At the county level, a screening and interview process occurs. Major instructional areas are agriscience/environmental sciences, English (communication arts), foreign languages, mathematics, science, social studies, visual art, theatre, music, dance, design, technology, and executive management. Since 1998, Gwinnett County Public Schools students have made up 10 to 13 percent of the GHP student body. This year, 91 GCPS students were selected out of 215 names nominated after the county selection process. This means 13 percent of students at GHP this summer are from Gwinnett County Public Schools.

Board receives information on 2006 summer school session
Chief School Improvement Specialist Emmett Lawson provided School Board members with information on the upcoming summer school session. The elementary and middle school session will be held June 20 through July 12. The high school session will run June 7 through July 11, with graduation being held on July 12. The free summer academic session for elementary and middle school students serves children who are currently on academic contracts. The high school session will be held at Norcross, Collins Hill, and Brookwood high schools, with classes also available online, and provides an opportunity for students to make up classes previously failed or to take classes to get ahead. This summer, GCPS anticipates serving 8,069 elementary students, 3,659 middle school students, and 3,000 high school students.

Class of 2006-- Gwinnett's largest ever
An annual report on the graduating seniors of Gwinnett County Public Schools shows that, as of April, more than 7,615 students were on track to graduate from GCPS’ 16 high schools in graduation exercises in late May. The final tally on the Class of 2006 is expected to top last year’s record-setting class of nearly 7,000 graduates. The Class of 2006 continues a GCPS tradition, with the vast majority of graduates headed for college in the fall. About 86 percent of expected 2006 graduates plan to attend college or postsecondary school. Most of those students, 85 percent, will stick close to home, attending state institutions. The other 15 percent plan to continue their education outside of Georgia.

Of the students with postsecondary education plans, 66 percent expect to attend a four-year college or university. Another 25 percent plan to attend a two-year institution. Technical colleges draw the remaining 9 percent of school-bound students from this year’s class. Of the graduates with postsecondary plans, 87 percent expect to attend public schools, while the other 13 percent plan to attend a private institution.

To date, graduating seniors have been offered almost $51 million in academic, athletic, and military scholarships. Nearly three-quarters of that amount-- $36.7 million-- comes from academic scholarships. This amount does not include awards under the HOPE Scholarship Program. 19 percent of GCPS’ college-bound graduates reported scholarship offers.

Fiscal year 2007 budget approved
The Board of Education adopted the fiscal year 2007 budget in the total expenditure amount of $1,417,301,343 as recommended by CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. The maintenance and operations and debt service millage rates to support this budget are scheduled to be set on June 12, 2006.

Harry Potter to remain in Gwinnett schools
The Gwinnett County Board of Education voted to allow the Harry Potter series of books to remain in Gwinnett County public school media centers. The Board’s actions upheld decisions made at the local school and system levels, and supported a recommendation made by Hearing Officer Su Ellen Bray, who conducted a public hearing on the matter on behalf of the School Board. The hearing was in response to the formal challenge filed by a Gwinnett County parent who asked that all of the Harry Potter books be removed from school media centers.

New Life Academy of Excellence charter school application approved
New Life Academy of Excellence presented a charter school application for the Gwinnett County Board of Education's review, prior to submitting the application to the Georgia Department of Education. The application-- which calls for the school to begin operation in September 2006, to serve students in grades Kindergarten through 3rd-- meets the minimal levels of the state requirements. In the application, organizers state that the school will use the Imagine Schools, Inc. Curriculum. A goal of the school is to produce a bilingual child who is not only fluent in English and Chinese, but who also will be able to function in both languages academically, intellectually, and socially in our future international economy and society. School Board members expressed concerns over the charter application and the proposed school's funding. CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks assured the Board that appropriate oversight will be exercised as the charter process moves forward.

Application approved for vocational and technical education funding
School Board members approved the Local Plan/Application for Vocational Education for submission to the Georgia Department of Education. This plan is required in accordance with the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998. Gwinnett's plan addresses activities and resources in architecture, communication, and logistics; engineering and technology; business information technology; marketing sales and service; human services and hospitality; healthcare science; agriculture; government and public safety. Gwinnett's proposed local budget for vocational and technical education for FY07 totals $15,196,759, compared to the expected federal grant funding of $1,044,047. The grant funds will be used to support 37 technical education program areas across all 16 Gwinnett high schools and two specialty centers. Funds will be used to purchase and/or develop assessment tests that reflect industry-recognized standards. Training will be provided for instructors on creating assessments that are appropriate for English language learners. Instructors have the opportunity to participate in staff development that focuses on the needs of special needs and ESOL learners.

Board continues update of policies
The Board tabled the following policy in order to receive public input on it prior to the June Board meeting.
- Policy EEE– Wellness Plan-- Information is incorporated into this new policy that reflects changes in current legislation.