GCPS Board Meeting Summary for June 18, 2009

The following are highlights of the June 18, 2009, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. Board members present included Chairman Daniel D. Seckinger, Vice Chair Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, Carole Boyce, Dr. Robert McClure, and Louise Radloff. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.

Students, staff, and community members earn Board recognition
-- The Board saluted the following students for 13 years of perfect attendance during their K-12 academic careers: Michael F. Swift of Berkmar HS; Austin C. Hunt of Collins Hill HS; Christopher Ryan Nelson of Dacula HS; Andie M. Tuggle of Mill Creek HS; Morganne Patterson of Norcross HS; Chong Hak Yoo of North Gwinnett HS; Brandon Patrick and Rebecca Suder of Parkview HS; Joan Chung of Peachtree Ridge HS; and Michael Bradford II of South Gwinnett HS.
-- School Board members recognized students who placed first or second in the 2009 Georgia PTA Reflections Competition, along with those who went on to earn national honors. Reflections is an annual competition that involves artistic expression in a variety of areas centered on a common theme. The theme for 2009 was "Wow." Gwinnett County Public Schools had 61 student winners at the state level, and four of those students went on to win in the national competition. National winners include Ryan Riche of Richards MS -- National Award of Excellence, Middle/Junior Division, Photography; Ava Hager of Duncan Creek ES -- National Award of Excellence, Primary Division, Musical Composition; Jonathan Li of Duluth MS -- Award of Merit, Middle/Junior Division, Musical Composition; and Aveek Sarker of Duluth HS -- Award of Merit, Senior Division, Literature. Click here for a list of 2009 State PTA Reflections winners from Gwinnett schools.

Board adopts millage rate
The Gwinnett County Board of Education adopted the superintendent's recommended 2009 millage rates to support the fiscal year 2010 budget, which was adopted on May 14, 2009. Board members set the maintenance and operations millage rate at 19.25 mills and the debt service millage rate at 1.30 mills for a combined total millage rate of 20.55 mills. This is the fifth consecutive year that the Board has held the millage rate stable.

School Board approves amendment to IE2 Partnership Contract
This past legislative session, the General Assembly passed HB 251, which is often referred to as the "choice" bill as it allows for parents to enroll their students in any public school within the local district in which they reside. The State Board of Education has determined that the mandates of HB 251 do not apply to school districts with existing IE2 Partnership Contracts, provided the contract grants a waiver of this law or is amended to allow such a waiver. The Gwinnett County Board of Education approved an amendment to its existing contract with the state to allow for this waiver, acknowledging that the district currently maintains a streamlined process for parents to request student transfers between schools within the system. In anticipation that the Georgia Board of Education will extend this flexibility to GCPS, and in the spirit of HB 251, the district is moving forward with plans to post on its web site its permissive transfer policy. Information to be posted on July 1, 2009, will include information about the district's permissive transfer process, the list of schools accepting transfers for 2009-10, and the timeline for requesting such transfers.

Board accepts and allocates ARRA stabilization dollars
Earlier this year, Congress passed and President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, often referred to as ARRA, to create jobs and make needed long-term investments. Under this law, Gwinnett County Public Schools will receive approximately $89 million. Nearly half of that total-- $40 million-- is categorized as “stabilization” dollars. This is not new funding for our schools, but replaces reductions that were made in the state’s Quality Basic Education (QBE) funding formula. The return of these dollars to our local district will allow us to preserve positions, preventing us from having to make further cuts in personnel allotments.

As part of its consent agenda, the Gwinnett County Board of Education voted to accept the stabilization dollars as a step in the process to meet state and federal requirements under ARRA. Guidelines for the use of the remainder of the ARRA funds were recently released and district leaders are currently determining how these new dollars will be used to benefit Gwinnett students in two specific programs— Special Education and Title I. Additional details on this will be shared at the August School Board meeting. Additionally, the school district will use the State Department of Education's new web site to share information about how the federal stimulus funds are being used in the district.

Board renews GUIDE agreement to continue offering substance abuse prevention programs
Annually, the Gwinnett County Board of Education and the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners enter into an agreement to support the operation of GUIDE, Inc., which develops and delivers local programs and services related to education about the prevention of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use and abuse. This year marks the 23rd year that GUIDE has served Gwinnett's need for a substance abuse prevention agency.

Board completes Gateway Review
Of the 42,817 Gwinnett 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th graders required to meet local Gateway promotion requirements, the vast majority earned passing scores on the first try and will be promoted to the next grade level. However, 360 students did not do as well on these assessments as would be expected, based on their classroom grades. For these students, the district's Assessment Review Procedure was initiated and acted upon by the Board. After a thorough review, Board members approved the following recommendations:
  • Waive passage of this year's Gateway requirement and promote to the next grade-- 29 students
  • Waive passage of this year's Gateway requirement, promote to the next grade, but recommend summer school-- 179
  • Do not waive passage of this year's Gateway requirement, recommend summer school, and require a retest and passage for promotion-- 152

    In making these determinations, Board members took into account the student's scores on state assessments, classroom performance as documented by the child's teacher(s), other assessment information, and evidence provided by the family of extenuating circumstances that could have affected the student's performance on the test.