Gwinnett County Public Schools | Education - Newsletter

Volume 3, Issue 4

April/May 2006

Safe and secure schools benefit from cooperation, preparation

It’s a Monday morning and something alarming has happened at the high school. Responders to an emergency call find a number of physically ill students lying in a hallway. As the nightmare scenario plays out, the building is evacuated and a situation assessment determines that the school community has been exposed to a biological agent in a deliberate criminal act. Ultimately, three students and a staff member will succumb to the deadly exposure.

A firefighter moves a “victim” to a safe location
Above: During the drill, a Gwinnett County firefighter moves a “victim” to a safer location.
Sloan Roach responts to TV Reporters Police Chief Wayne Rikard
Top: GCPS Spokesperson Sloan Roach responds to questions in a mock interview with TV reporters.
Bottom: Representatives from law enforcement and emergency response agencies, including GCPS Police Chief Wayne Rikard (red shirt), work together during the drill.

No, this isn’t a movie trailer or, for that matter, breaking news on CNN. The incident described above “happened” in Gwinnett County, part of a multi-agency training drill to test communication and cooperation in the event of a bio-hazard emergency. Click here to learn more about the emergency drill and the school system’s commitment to safe and secure schools.

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“Quality public schools have never been more important, more effective, or more fragile than they are right now. We have the honor and responsibility of educating every child who comes our way. Consider that we must do so amid unprecedented challenges in the areas of accountability, funding, political pressure, and growth. As you look at the performance of Gwinnett County Public Schools, I trust you see an encouraging picture of a school system that is strategically planning for the future in all areas, including rethinking how to best educate students, managing our tremendous growth, continuing to improve even as funding decreases, and keeping the focus always on the main thing… teaching and learning.”
Mr. WilbanksJ. Alvin Wilbanks, CEO/Superintendent

During five Area Board Meetings in April, Mr. Wilbanks addressed citizens, staff, and students on the FY2007 budget, legislative concerns, and “The Plan” to handle growth issues. Click here for Mr. Wilbanks’ full remarks, a copy of his presentation, budget highlights, and an update on the current building program.

Lean budget year means tough choices

During recent Area Board meetings, CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks gave a frank assessment of the budget picture for Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS), saying “Our needs are great and our resources are limited.” Unfunded and under funded legislative mandates and continued austerity cuts by the state have dramatically strained available resources, he said, while explosive growth, an ongoing classroom crunch, and the class-size reductions make tremendous demands on system coffers. Click here for an executive summary of the system’s tentatively adopted budget for the 2006-07 school year.

Lean Budget

GCPS students ready for higher CRCT expectations

Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) students were well prepared for higher expectations on state-required exams taken in April, thanks to a strong and stable local curriculum, high testing standards at the district level, and exceptional teaching. Last month, the state Board of Education adopted the higher passing scores for the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT), which measure mastery of the state's new, stronger statewide curriculum. CRCT results help determine a school's Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act. Families will get CRCT results as the school year ends, with system results out in June. AYP status will be determined by the state education officials during the summer. Click here for more on the new state curriculum, the new scores, and a glossary of related terms.

Challenging coursework important for all students, especially college-bound
HOPE Graduate

Recent news about changes to the state-funded HOPE Scholarship Program may have some families unsure of the best way to prepare for college. Too often, students cross their fingers and hope they’re ready for college and are eligible for HOPE. Students need to get the facts about the HOPE changes and know whether they’re affected, but, more importantly, they need to make sure they’re making good academic choices now so that they can keep the scholarship once they get it. Click here for a flyer about the HOPE changes.

About teaching and learning…Technical education,
fine arts, and the research process
Techical Education

Students explore, enhance learning with tech ed: From computers to cooking, every Gwinnett high school offers a range of career and technical ed courses, along with apprenticeship opportunities. Additionally, two facilities—drawing juniors and seniors from around the county— offer cutting-edge courses, high-tech equipment, and instructors with a wealth of industry experience. To learn more about these programs, students should talk to their school counselors. Click here for more on the Grayson High Technical Education Program and click here for details on classes at Maxwell High School of Technology. Click here to learn six good reasons for pursuing a dual diploma, combining college and career preparation.

Kaleidoscope of fine arts options available in Gwinnett: Dance, music, theater arts, and visual arts all are part of the curriculum in GCPS, which begins introducing students to the elements and principles of art in the early grades. Studies show that the fine arts can increase a child’s social development and learning capacity, help students develop critical-thinking skills and self-discipline, and result in better grades and academic performance. Click here for some creativity boosters for your elementary school child.

Pump up your child’s information literacy: Gwinnett students prepare to be lifelong learners by “learning to learn,” developing the ability to locate, evaluate, and use the information they need. As teachers and media specialists guide students through the research process, literacy skills are reinforced and content is learned. Click here for ways you can help your child pump up those research skills.

Media Center Education

System seeks GEMS committee applicants

June 2 is the deadline to apply for openings on the GEMS Oversight Committee. The committee meets annually for one to two days to review input from educators and community members on suggested revisions, deletions, and additions to the Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) curriculum. The group’s recommendations are presented to the superintendent for adoption by the Board of Education. Click here for an application.

HS summer school registration available online

Gwinnett County Public Schools offers high school students two ways to learn for credit this summer… with one easy way to register. New this year, students can register online for both face-to-face Summer School classes and the summer session of Gwinnett County Online Campus. Click here for more information on dates, fees, and available classes, and here to register online through June 3.

Free K–8 Academic Summer School benefits qualifying students

Younger students who struggle academically can benefit from more time and different ways of learning during GCPS’ free K–8 Academic Summer School for students on academic contracts. Qualifying students will attend the sessions June 20 to July 12, with holidays July 3–4. The parents of students who qualify for the free session will learn more this spring.

Looking for a job with great benefits and flexibility?

GCPS now has positions open for school bus drivers for the coming school year. Applicants must have a good driving record and a valid Georgia driver’s license. Call 678-225-7670 to register for an information meeting.

Bus Drivers Needed

Bus driver training ensures safe ride for students

It’s been said that movie star Ginger Rogers did everything her on-film dance partner Fred Astaire did… only backwards and in high heels. That analogy seems a fair comparison for Gwinnett’s school bus drivers, too. Like all of us who live in traffic-heavy metro Atlanta, these transportation professionals navigate busy Gwinnett County roadways each day, but they do it in those big yellow vehicles with a busload of schoolchildren aboard. (All that, and they boast a better safety record than the average Atlanta driver, too!) Be assured that safely transporting nearly 110,000 students to and from school each day is “no accident.” Click here to learn more about GCPS’ training program for drivers.

2006-07 calendar dates available online

Trying to plan college trips next fall or coordinate a family reunion for Spring Break 2007? Click here for the dates you need. Your fridge-ready student calendar for 2006-07 will be available in August. (A PDF version will be posted later this spring if you can’t wait.)

May calendar wraps up year
Graduation 2006

If the robin is the first sign of spring, then all those graduation signs at subdivision entrances must signal the end of the school year. Click here for special dates and testing details.

Event IDs children needing special education services

A free, appropriate public education is the right of every child with a disability, ages 3 to 21, but how do families determine if their children are in need of special education or related services? On May 13 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., GCPS will host a Child Find Screening and Information Fair in the Central Gwinnett Room (Building 200) at the Instructional Support Center, located at 437 Old Peachtree Rd. NW in Suwanee. A Spanish interpreter will be on hand. Representatives will conduct developmental, vision, hearing, and speech screenings for Gwinnett children ages 0–21. Call 678-301-7110 for more information.

State BOE’s Perez plans May 15 town hall meeting

State Board of Education Member José Perez, serving the 7th Congressional District, will hold a listening session on May 15, from 7 to 9 p.m., at Norcross HS.  Students, staff, parents, and community members are invited to the event, which will focus on improving student achievement for Georgia’s students. Those wishing to speak at the public forum are asked to sign in when they arrive. For more information or to request auxiliary aids, contact Lynn Roberts of the state Department of Education at 404-657-7410 or by e-mail at

Honors add up for Gwinnett schools, staff, students

It’s the time of the year when honors and accolades are coming in so fast, it’s hard to keep up. Consider the following… the nation’s #1 student orchestra; one of 50 schools in the U.S. recognized with the Siemens Award for Advanced Placement in math, science, and technology; the state’s top assistant principal; the nation’s top female basketball player; national winners in math competition; Georgia’s German student and teacher of the year and recognition for a “promising” French teacher, plus top scores and awards for students in foreign language; national-bound competitors in technical education; recognition for high-scoring 7th graders on the SAT; more than 10% of the state’s participants selected for the 2006 Governor’s Honors Program; Georgia’s Secondary Reading Teacher of the Year; top-notch robotics teams and students earning spots in prestigious science and engineering competitions; the state’s Science Olympiad and Science Bowl champions; a state finalist for Georgia Nurse of the Year; one of 48 national finalists in the Intel and Scholastics Schools of Distinction Awards; national speakers; scholarships and grants for both students and staff; academic bowl winners; and Gwinnett’s top bus managers and monitor. By the time you read this, there will be more honors on their way. Click here and just try to keep up with the latest good news. Award lists are updated periodically as schools, staff members, and students are honored at the state and national levels. During the school year, “News You Can Use” is a weekly collection of honors and upcoming events submitted by local schools.

Let’s stay in touch…
  • Tune into GCPS TV. Click here for programming and cable channels for GCPS TV.
  • Visit the GCPS Web site. Click here for the home page.
  • Check your email every other month for this electronic newsletter. Click here for the e-News archives.
Look for Communiqué, GCPS’ community newsletter. Read the spring issue when you click here.

We would like to hear your suggestions for topics to cover in future issues of this publication, or ways we can keep in touch if you do not wish to receive this e-mail publication. Thank you for your continued support of public education and of Gwinnett County Public Schools' efforts to become a system of world-class schools. Please e-mail with your feedback and suggestions.


©2006 Gwinnett County Public Schools. All rights reserved. 5/06

GCPS: 437 Old Peachtree Road NW, Suwanee, GA 30024-2978 (678) 301-6000
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2006 Gwinnett County Board of Education
Dr. Robert McClure, Chairman; Louise Radloff, Vice Chairman;
Carole Boyce; Dr. Mary Kay Murphy; and Daniel D. Seckinger,
CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks