Board Meeting Summary for 05/28/2015
The following are highlights of the May 28, 2015, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. Board members present included Chairman Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, Vice Chairman Dr. Robert McClure, Carole Boyce, Daniel Seckinger, and Louise Radloff. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.
Board honors students and staff
-- Board members saluted Dean Feldman of Peachtree Ridge HS on his recent induction into the Educational Theatre Association Hall of Fame. Any association member who has devoted 20 or more years to theatre education may be nominated to the Hall of Fame. Educational Theatre Association Hall of Fame inductees are selected by a committee. The judges base their decisions on several criteria, including professional achievement, education, continuing education, community service, commitment to theatre and theatre education, past work with the Educational Theatre Association or its forerunners, and letters of recommendation from peers. The group recognizes a maximum of five individuals annually. Only six honorees from Georgia have ever earned this honor. In introducing Mr. Feldman, his principal, Dr. Jeff Mathews, praised his contributions to theatre and to Peachtree Ridge.
-- The Board of Education congratulated Nick Pelletier of Duluth HS on his selection as a member of the 2015 National Youth Orchestra (NYO-USA). Nick will join 120 other young musicians, ages 16 to 19, in a concert tour of China as well as a Carnegie Hall performance which will be broadcast live worldwide. All expenses will be paid by Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute. One of the missions of the NYO-USA is to foster cultural discovery through performance and meetings with local young musicians from China. The Orchestra will perform nine concerts on the two-week tour, set for July 10-26, preceded by a two-week residency at Purchase College, SUNY. Members of the New York Philharmonic will coach the students. The tour will take them to seven cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Xi'an, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. The Orchestra is in its third year and is the first national youth orchestra of this kind since Leopold Stokowski established one in 1940 which was then suspended by the advent of World War II. During the first two seasons, the orchestra toured Russia and the United States. Nick was joined at tonight's recognition by Duluth HS Principal Anthony Smith and Duluth HS' orchestra directors, Dr. Peter Lemonds and Shawn Morton. Dr. Lemonds shared a number of Nick's accomplishments, both musically and academically.
-- In other Fine Arts news, the School Board honored the North Gwinnett MS Percussion Ensemble, which is directed by Travis Downs, on its selection and performance at the Sandy Feldstein National Percussion Festival in Indianapolis, Ind. The North Gwinnett ensemble was one of three Junior High/Middle School groups in the country selected to perform at this year's festival, which was part of the 2015 Music for All National Festival presented by Yamaha. All invited ensembles were selected based on recordings of their groups that were evaluated by a distinguished panel of music professors from universities across America. Accepting this Board recognition on behalf of the school were Assistant Principal Hunter McRae and Orchestra Director Travis Downs.
-- Parkview HS took center stage as the Board recognized two groups of students who were successful in the Georgia Stock Market Game. One Parkview team, comprised of students Jordan Bandy, Luis Herrera, and Helen Pearson and led by Teacher Gary Petmecky, was the state winner in the Fall 2014 Georgia Stock Market Game. A second team, comprised of students Carlos Camacho, Alexus Dial, and Feven Haile and led by Teacher Mark Leviton, was the state winner of the Spring 2015 Georgia Stock Market Game. The Stock Market Game, facilitated by the Georgia Council on Economic Education, is designed to show students how the laws of economics unfold in the “real world.” Teams of students are given a hypothetical portfolio of $100,000 for 10 weeks. The Stock Market Game is a tool for helping students develop a solid understanding of how private enterprises operate. Principal David T. Smith and Teacher Mark Leviton joined some of the students in accepting tonight's recognition. In introducing team members from the second team, Mr. Leviton shared that these students had turned their $100,000 into more than $270,000 through their "investments" during the spring game.
-- Twenty-one students who attend Maxwell HS of Technology were honored by the Gwinnett County Board of Education on their 1st and 2nd place finishes in the SkillsUSA competition. SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers, and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. It is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations. Students recognized tonight may compete at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference to be held June 22 through June 26 in Louisville, Kentucky. Prior to introducing the students, Dr. Jeff Hall, Maxwell principal, introduced the teachers who sponsor SkillsUSA and work with participating students during the school year. He also shared that at the state competition, Maxwell students had 26 students place in competition, with 17 of those earning 1st place and 13 students earning the opportunity to compete at the national level. In addition to the individual honors, the Maxwell SkillsUSA chapter earned recognition as the state's largest chapter, and for being a Gold Chapter and a Chapter of Excellence. Click here for a listing of these award-winning students.
-- The members of the School Board congratulated a group of 2015 high school graduates who were members of the inaugural STEM Targeted Educational Program (STEP Academy). These students were in the first cohort of over-aged middle school students selected to take part in this intervention program which began in 2011-12. Eligible 8th grade students from Berkmar MS and Sweetwater MS were selected for the program. Tonight's recognition celebrated the fact that these students not only completed requirements for 8th and 9th grade in one year, allowing them to catch up to their peers, but also successfully completed high school on time with their peers. Berkmar HS Principal Al Taylor thanked the members of the Board of Education for its foresight in implementing this program and for their continued support of this program that has transformed the lives of these young people. Click here for a list of graduates who attended the STEP Academy.
-- A host of Gwinnett students earned 1st place or Special and Grand awards at the 2015 Georgia Junior & Senior Science & Engineering Fair. The Georgia State Junior & Senior Science & Engineering Fair is an annual competition featuring the research of middle and high school students in the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering. Students qualify for the state competition by placing 1st at the Regional Science & Engineering Fair earlier in the year. Click here for a list of GCPS students taking these top prizes.
-- Mason ES was honored on its recent recognition as a 2015 National Green Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. This year's honorees were selected for their exemplary efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education, including civics and green career pathways. Principal David Jones accepted the Board's congratulations on behalf of his school and community.
BOE approves FY2016 budget and tentatively sets millage rate
Board members adopted the FY2016 budget in the expenditure amount of $1,858,289,327. As part of the budget process, the Board of Education also tentatively adopted a millage rate of 21.85 mills (19.80 mills for maintenance and operations and 2.05 mills for debt service) to support the budget. CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks provided his FY2016 budget recommendations to the members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education the week of March 23, 2015. The Board met in work sessions to discuss the budget on March 28 and April 14. School Board members tentatively adopted the FY2016 budget on April 14 and then held public hearings on May 14 and May 28, before final adoption at the May 28 meeting. As part of the budget process, the GCPS Board of Education is required by the state to adopt a tentative budget, to advertise it, and to hold a public hearing.
BOE continues work on policies
- The Board approved Policy KBA - Open Records which had been placed on the table for review last month.
- The Board tabled Policy JCD - Student Conduct Behavior Code until the June meeting to allow for public input.