The following are highlights of the May 18, 2017, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education (BOE). Board members present included Chairman Louise Radloff, Vice Chairman Carole Boyce, Daniel Seckinger, Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, and Dr. Robert McClure. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.
Board salutes staff, students, and schools on recent honors
- Marlene Taylor-Crawford, president of the United Ebony Society, and other leaders of the group joined the Board of Education to congratulate Taliah Etana Boyd of South Gwinnett HS and Kamari Montai Odom of Archer HS who are this year's recipients of the Robbie Susan Moore Scholarship. This scholarship is a one-time award of $1,000 for one or more college-bound Gwinnett County Public Schools seniors who are planning to attend a two-year or four-year college or university. Selection is based on participation in a leadership role in community service activities or volunteer work, as well as a commitment to making a difference in their community.
- Kudos also to Allison Chan of Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology, who is this year's recipient of the Helen Flemming Stone Scholarship. This $1,000 scholarship is sponsored by the Georgia Art Education Association and the National Art Honor Society Conference. In order to be considered for this scholarship, students enter three pieces-- one drawing, one-color design, and one three-dimensional work-- plus three other pieces of their choice along with their autobiography and letter of recommendation. Allison is the state winner in this high-level competition for students who plan to continue their visual arts education in college. Allison was accompanied at tonight's meeting by Principal IV Bray and her teacher, Jennifer Prince.
- School Board members congratulated Kyra Ehle of North Gwinnett HS who placed first in the Atlantic Institute Art and Essay Contest. Every year, the Atlantic Institute holds this contest to help promote mutual respect and bring issues and problems of the world to light through paintings, photographs, and essays. The Annual Art and Essay contest has always been representative of Atlantic Institute’s goals to facilitate dialogue and bridge cultures around the globe. This year's theme for the contest was “Compassion in Action...Caring Matters!" Kyra placed first with her piece, entitled “Compassion,” which focused on the issue of homelessness. Principal Nathan Ballantine and Yvette Kim, Kyra's art teacher, joined her at tonight's meeting.
- Another North Gwinnett HS fine arts student, Reina Kyu-Bin Lee, earned a nod from the School Board on her recognition as the Georgia Art Education Association (GAEA) Georgia Art Portfolio Award winner. One student each year is recognized by GAEA as the top art student in the state of Georgia. Senior visual arts students submit a portfolio of 10 different works of art to compete at the National Art Honor Society State Conference. This recognition is accompanied by a $1,000 scholarship. Art schools across the nation seek out the winner of this award every year to offer further scholarship opportunities. Reina's teacher, Dallas Gillespie, joined her at tonight's meeting.
- Two more North Gwinnett HS students-- Grace Chung and Alyssa Hinkle-- were recognized as the Youth Art Month Flag Design Winners by the National Art Education Association. To promote Youth Art Month, the Council for Art Education coordinates activities at the national level. The primary event is the State Flag Program. Using the national or state theme, each state coordinates a flag design contest, with the winning design made into a flag for display in the Youth Art Month Museum at the National Art Education Association Convention. These students’ designs were selected and used to represent the state of Georgia at the National Art Conference in New York this year. These students also are instructed by Ms. Kim.
- Wrapping up the fine arts accolades from North Gwinnett HS is the recognition of Debi West as the 2017 Southeastern Secondary Art Educator of the Year by the National Art Education Association. Mrs. West earned this honor based on her leadership, hard work in the classroom, and commitment to the arts. She was selected from a pool of candidates from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and the Virgin Islands. Mrs. West was presented with the award at the National Arts Education Association National Convention on March 2, in New York City. In introducing Mrs. West, whose accomplishments also include being named 2005 National Elementary Art Educator of the Year, Principal Nathan Ballantine said, "You will not find a more talented and dedicated advocate of the arts and our students. Her students, our school and our community are thankful to her."
- Board members congratulated Ashley Allgood of Brookwood HS on being named 2017 Georgia Latin Teacher of the Year by the Georgia Classical Association. The Teacher of the Year Award is presented to a member of the Georgia Classical Association who is distinguished as a teacher of Latin through the performance of students and through exceptional efforts to enhance the teaching of Latin in the state of Georgia.
- The School Board saluted Abhiram Kapaganty of Burnette ES who is the 2017 Georgia Spelling Bee Champion. On March 17, 2017, the Georgia Association of Educators held the 56th Annual Georgia Spelling Bee. Abhiram, a 5th grade student, represented Gwinnett County Public Schools in the competition. He won the competition in the record-breaking 23rd round. Abhiram will represent Georgia in the Scripps National Spelling Bee later this month. The competition will air live from the Gaylord National near Washington, D.C., on May 31 and June 1. Dr. Kim Reed, principal, and Maria Upchurch, the champ's teacher, accompanied him during tonight's recognition.
- The Board also recognized Dr. Amber Simmons of Brookwood HS on her recognition by the Georgia Council of Teachers of English as the group's 2017 Teacher of the Year. This program recognizes a language arts teacher who understands the crucial issues in the teaching of literacy skills, demonstrates keen awareness and implementation of the best practices in teaching language arts, and influences colleagues at a local, state, and national level. Dr. Simmons was honored at the state level on February 11, and now will represent Georgia in the National Council of Teachers of English High School Teacher of the Year competition.
- The Gwinnett County Board of Education honored the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology's Academic WorldQuest Team on its region win. The team is comprised of students Theodora Abah, Sahana Shridhar, Nondi Walters, and Sebastian Williams. In the WorldQuest competition, conducted by the Tennessee World Affairs Council, the students answered 100 multiple-choice questions on topics that included current events, countries, international law, United Nations peacekeeping organizations, worldwide elections, Great Decisions articles, and people in the news. The team had the opportunity to compete at the national level in Washington, D.C., earlier this spring. The team is coached by Teacher Adam Brown.
- Board members congratulated another award-winning teacher as they honored Andrea Barrett of Mountain View HS who was named 2017 Teacher of the Year by the Georgia Marketing Education Association. The Teacher of the Year award is reserved for teachers who make an impact on both their local school and the community through excellent career and technical education programs. Ms. Barrett has been a Marketing Education teacher in GCPS for nine years, spending the last eight years at Mountain View. She also is the advisor for DECA-- a co-currricular organization for students interested in careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management-- and she runs Bear Necessities, the Mountain View HS store. In addition to this recognition, Ms. Barrett will compete for the Georgia Association for Career and Technical Education Teacher of the Year title this July in Atlanta.
- Max Chavez of Maxwell HS of Technology also was honored on a recent state recognition as he was named 2017 Teacher of the Year by the Trade and Industrial Educators of Georgia (TIEGA). Mr. Chavez has been a maintenance and light repair automotive services instructor for six years at Maxwell HS of Technology. He currently serves as the Transportation Cluster Coach for Gwinnett County Public Schools, and is the Vice President for the TIEGA Board of Directors. In 2014, Mr. Chavez was named the TIEGA New Teacher of the Year. Mr. Chavez also will compete for the Georgia Association for Career and Technical Education Teacher of the Year title this July in Atlanta.
- Hats off to Pooja Parmar and Asmarah Yaqoob of North Gwinnett HS on their 1st place finish in School-Based Enterprise (SBE)-Retail Operations at the DECA International Career Development Conference. DECA is an international association of high school and college students that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management. Through DECA, Gwinnett County Public Schools’ students have the opportunity to participate in leadership development activities and compete in a variety of events on an international level. Starting in September, this North Gwinnett team worked together to submit the DECA requirements for the Dawg House school store (SBE) to be Gold Re-certified. The results were announced in March and North Gwinnett HS' SBE achieved the highest level possible with a Gold certification. Principal Ballantine and teacher and DECA sponsor Jacqueline Huffman joined the students at tonight's recognition.
- The Board recognized the Puckett's Mill ES Sparrowbots on winning the state championship during the FIRST LEGO League Robotics Competition. For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. The not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills. FIRST participation is proven to encourage students to pursue education and careers in STEM-related fields, inspire them to become leaders and innovators, and enhance their 21st century work-life skills. The Sparrowbots became State Champions at the competition on February 4 and were able to attend the FIRST LEGO League World Championship in Houston, Texas in April. At that competition, they earned perfect scores in all the core value areas (cooperation, team work, and gracious professionalism) as well as in one area of the research rubric (presentation). Principal Ruth Westbrooks and Teacher Mandy Collins provided the Board with background on the students' project and expressed their pride in their students.
- A group of students were honored by the Board due to their 1st and 2nd place finishes in the SkillsUSA competition. SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers, and industry representatives working together to ensure that America has a skilled workforce. Twenty-one Gwinnett representatives placed 1st or 2nd at the State Leadership and Skills Conference held March 23-25 in Atlanta, and will compete at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference to be held June 19-24 in Louisville, Ky. Click here for a list of these top finishers.
- In celebration of other award-winning career and technical education students, School Board members honored a number of students on their top finishes in the Technology Student Association (TSA) state competition. TSA is a national co-curricular organization that provides opportunities for leadership and career development for students engaged in technology, innovation, design, and engineering through curriculum-based activities and competitions. More than 233,000 students are involved with TSA nationwide. These Gwinnett students won 1st or 2nd place at the State Leadership Conference held March 16-18 in Athens and will have the opportunity to compete at the TSA National Leadership Conference set for June 21-25 in Orlando. Click here for a complete list of Gwinnett honorees.
- Kudos to three VEX Robotics Teams from Parkview HS on their achievements in state and national competitions. The VEX Robotics Competition, presented by the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation, is the ultimate STEM activity for middle school and high school students. Each year, an engineering challenge is presented in the form of a game. Students, with guidance from their teachers and mentors, use the VEX Robotics Design System to build innovative robots designed to score the most points possible in qualification matches, elimination matches, and skills challenges. Parkview HS earned 2nd place at the 2017 State Championship and advanced to the World Championship. The World Championship was held in Louisville, Ky., in April, where Parkview HS teams were crowned World Champions in the VEX Robotics Promote Online Video Challenge and also won the Research Division Service Award. Accompanying team members at tonight’s recognition were Principal David T. Smith and Teacher Terry Cotton.
- Congrats also to the Collins Hill HS Academic Team on its 2017 state championship season. The team is comprised of students Min Kim, Connor Maguire, Daniel Nguyen, Chris Saroza, and Indy Schieber. The Georgia Academic Team Association is the main governing body of the Quiz Bowl in Georgia. The Collins Hill team competed at the Varsity State Championships on March 25, and finished first place in Division 1 to win the school’s first-ever state championship for the academic team. Principal Kerensa Wing and Coach Scott Kim shared team highlights while introducing their award-winning students.
- The recognitions wrapped up with a salute to Gwinnett graduating seniors who have been recognized as 2017 Georgia Scholars. In 2017, the Georgia Department of Education recognized 183 graduating seniors from public and private schools across Georgia as Georgia Scholars. Gwinnett County Public Schools had 28 seniors on the list of scholars. These students have achieved excellence in school and community life. Each scholar will receive a seal for his or her diploma. Click here for a list of Gwinnett’s Georgia Scholars.
Gwinnett School Board approves FY2018 Budget and tentatively sets the millage rate to support the budget
CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks provided his FY2018 budget recommendations to the members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education the week of March 20. The Board met in work sessions to discuss the budget on March 25 and April 11. As part of the budget process, School Board members tentatively adopted the FY2018 Budget on April 11, and then held Public Hearings on May 11 and May 18. At tonight’s meeting, the Board of Education adopted the FY2018 Budget in the expenditure amount of $2,091,617,148 as presented by the Superintendent and tentatively adopted by the Board on April 11.
As part of the budget-adoption process, the Board of Education took the first step in setting the millage rate to support the FY2018 Budget. The Board tentatively adopted the millage rate this month, and final adoption is expected in June 2017 when the county's tax digest is finalized.
Citizens addressing the Board
- Lisa Robinson
- Liza Park