The following are highlights of the January 24, 2019, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education (BOE). Board members present included Chairman Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, Vice Chairman Louise Radloff, Carole C. Boyce, Steven B. Knudsen, and Everton Blair, Jr. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.
Board attends to annual business at first meeting of 2019
January is the month for the Gwinnett County Board of Education to elect its officers for the new calendar year. As the first order of business, Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, who represents District III, was elected chairman for 2019. Louise Radloff, District V representative, was elected vice chairman for 2019. In accordance with policy, the School Board reaffirmed its policies, designated the Gwinnett Daily Post as the official media organ for the school system, and approved retaining the services of Thompson, Sweeny, Kinsinger & Pereira, P.C. as its legal counsel. In addition, Board members approved the meeting schedule for 2019. Adopted School Board meeting dates remaining in 2019 include February 21, March 21, April 18, May 16, June 20, July 18, August 15, September 19, October 17, November 21, and December 19.
BOE thanks citizens who led the 2018 General Obligation Bond Referendum Committee
On November 6, 2018, Gwinnett voters approved, with a 78% "Yes" vote, a General Obligation (G.O.) Bond referendum. The bonds will be used to fund the district's long-range strategy for meeting facility and technology needs. The campaign to inform voters about the G.O. Bond referendum election and advocate for its passage was conducted by the citizen-led "Gwinnett Kids Count!" 2018 General Obligation Bond Referendum Committee. Norwood Davis and Mike Levengood led the campaign as co-chairs, assisted by treasurer Andrew Pourchier and campaign advocate and speaker David Will. The Board and Superintendent recognized the Gwinnett Kids Count! campaign leaders for their service to Gwinnett County Public Schools in securing a positive outcome in the November 6 election.
Board members honor students and staff
- The School Board saluted Charles "Chaz" Kachmar of Maxwell HS of Technology on his recognition as a 2018 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Teacher of Excellence. Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, as a part of the Smidt Foundation, supports skilled trades education in U.S. public schools. Career and Technical Education instructors from across the country apply to be recognized as one of the “most passionate, skilled teachers” operating a “skilled trade program with a proven record of performance." Mr. Kachmar was selected in November of 2018 as one of the three 1st place winners. He has been the school's welding program instructor since 2012. Mr. Kachmar has consistently grown his program, providing his apprentices with hands-on experiences and access to jobs after graduation. In introducing Mr. Kachmar, Dr. Jeff Hall, Maxwell's principal, shared that Mr. Kachmar's passion and love for his students and craft is known to everyone who has spent time in his classroom. As part of the award, the school's skilled trades program received $70,000 and Mr. Kachmar received $30,000 for his personal use.
- In conjunction with Gwinnett County's bicentennial celebration, GCPS provided students with the opportunity to participate in a writing contest, using the theme "Celebrating 200 Years: What Makes Gwinnett a Great Place to Live." Students across the county wrote about their love for our community. In their writing, they provided a clear vision of the many wonderful places and people that make Gwinnett great. Twelve students from across the district were designated as winners at the various levels from among the 400-plus entries. The winning students received a plaque from the Social Studies Office and a monetary award provided by Peach State Federal Credit Union. The student winners are:
Kindergarten-2nd Grade Category:
Theophilia Alese of Gwin Oaks ES, 1st place; Noah Girma of Gwin Oaks ES, 2nd place; and Olivia Daniel-Nwoko of Lawrenceville ES, 3rd place
3rd-5th Grade Category:
Sarafina Estima of Norton ES, 1st place; Tanvi Nelakosigi of Level Creek ES, 2nd place; and Susan Elyse Reynolds of Duncan Creek ES, 3rd place
Middle School Category:
Claire Kim of North Gwinnett MS, 1st place; Aarya Desai of Hull MS, 2nd place; and Nafisa Bangura of Northbrook MS, 3rd place
High School Category:
Lane Madderra of Duluth HS, 1st place; Isabel Call of Duluth HS, 2nd place; Alexander Fonzi of North Gwinnett HS, 3rd place
- Board members recognized a number of educators who earned recognition from the Georgia School Counselor Association. These individuals were recognized for counseling excellence or as supporters of counseling excellence. Over the years, Gwinnett County Public Schools has fared well in this statewide competition. That trend continued in 2018 as all but one state award was presented to a GCPS employee. Gwinnett's honored staff members include:
Laura Ross of Five Forks MS, School Counselor of the Year
Sherry Ferguson of Ferguson ES, School Counselor of the Year Semifinalist
Bobby Gueh of Lanier HS, School Counselor of the Year Semifinalist
Principal Christine Douthart of Five Forks MS, Administrator of the Year
Anthony Smith, Assistant Superintendent for High Schools (and former principal of Duluth HS), Advocate of the Year
Teshia Dula of Hull MS, Writer of the Year
Ms. Ross advances to national competition.
- Kudos to Mill Creek HS' Coed Competition Cheerleading Team on its 2018 AAAAAAA state championship season. The team won its school's first coed cheer state title on November 9 in Columbus, Ga. Jason Lane, principal, expressed his school's pride in the accomplishments of these student athletes. Accompanying team members to tonight's recognition were Athletic Director Gary Long and Coaches Brenda Petty and Katie Fowler.
- Members of the Gwinnett BOE honored Simpson ES and its school community on the school's recognition as a 2018 National Blue Ribbon School by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Simpson was one of 13 schools in Georgia and one of 349 nationally to earn the distinction this past year. Simpson was named an “Exemplary High Performing School” based on its students' academic performance. The Peachtree Corners school was previously recognized as a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School. Principal Bron Gayna Schmit has led the school since 2004.
- The Board celebrated 36 Gwinnett schools recognized as 2018 Single Statewide Accountability System Award Schools by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. Schools earn recognition in two categories: Greatest Gains and/or the Highest Performing categories. Greatest Gains schools earned a three-year average College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) progress score in at least the 93rd percentile in the state. Highest Performing schools earned a three-year average CCRPI content mastery score in at least the 93rd percentile in the state. Click here for a list of Gwinnett's award-winning schools.
School Board renames Northbrook Center as the Buice Center
Board members approved a recommendation to rename the facility known as Northbrook Center, giving it the name of Buice Center. (There will be no change to Northbrook MS which is adjacent to Northbrook Center.) The move to the new name is actually a move back to a familiar name for many of the programs found at the center as they were previously housed at the now-closed Buice School that was located in Sugar Hill. That facility was named for T. Carl Buice, a long-time educator in Gwinnett who served as principal of Sugar Hill ES, Sugar Hill HS (which later would become North Gwinnett HS), and Centerville JHS. He ended his career as a teacher at Central Gwinnett HS. Mr. Buice was also recognized as a leader in the community, earning the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce's Public Service Award in 1985.
Policy work continues
The following policy changes were approved after being tabled for review at the December 20, 2018, Monthly Business Meeting:
- Policy GAG- Staff Conflict of Interest - Changes were made in accordance with policy guidance and/or mandates in state and/or federal law.
- Policy GAK- Fingerprinting/Criminal Background Check - Changes were made in accordance with policy guidance and/or mandates in state and/or federal law.
- Policy GAM- Mandatory Reporting of Employee Crimes - Changes were made in accordance with policy guidance and/or mandates in state and/or federal law.
- Policy GANA - Communicable Diseases - Changes were approved in accordance with policy guidance and/or mandates in state and/or federal law.
- Policy GBRC - Employee Work Day - Changes were approved in accordance with policy guidance and/or mandates in state and/or federal law.
- Policy GCRA - Drug and Alcohol Testing - Changes were made in accordance with policy guidance and/or mandates in state and/or federal law.
- Policy JCAC - Sexual Harassment - Changes were made in accordance with policy guidance and/or mandates in state and/or federal law.
- Policy JGFGB - Concussion Management and Return to Play - Changes were made in accordance with policy guidance and/or mandates in state and/or federal law.
- Policy GBRIC - Leave of Absence - Changes were made in accordance with policy guidance and/or mandates in state and/or federal law.
- Policy GBRIG - Family and Medical - Changes were made in accordance with policy guidance and/or mandates in state and/or federal law.
School Board honors Carole Boyce for service as 2018 Chairman
The Board annually recognizes and thanks the outgoing chairman for his or her leadership and service during the year. Carole C. Boyce was acknowledged during the meeting for her service as the 2018 chairman. CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks announced that each of the high schools in Mrs. Boyce's Board district (Archer HS, Dacula HS, and Grayson HS) will receive books for their media center in honor of Mrs. Boyce's service.
Citizens addressing the Board
- Allen Owen