Board Meeting Summary for 10/15/2020
Recordings of the meetings will be available Oct. 16, 2020. Until they are available, the links below will direct users to GCPS TV's Board of Education Meeting Archive.
Work Session Business Meeting Oct. 15, 2020, School Board Work Session Stream:
To view the recorded Work Session, please click on the meeting link.
Oct. 15, 2020, School Board Business Meeting Stream: To view the recorded Business Meeting, please click on the meeting link.
The following are highlights of the October 15, 2020, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education (BOE). Board members present included 2020 Chairman Louise Radloff, Vice Chairman Carole C. Boyce, Steven B. Knudsen, and Dr. Mary Kay Murphy who were in-person at the meeting, and Everton Blair, Jr. who attended virtually. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.
Board members recognize employees, students, and award-winning schools
- The School Board congratulated Reagan Patterson of Brookwood High School on her 1st-place finish in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) National Leadership Conference in the Sales Presentation event. She is one of 10,000 students from around the country who competed virtually this summer. Reagan is one seven officers in Brookwood’s FLBA local chapter. FBLA is the largest student business organization in the world with more than 250,000 members. FBLA is an important partner in business education and student leadership development, and is recognized by the federal departments of Education and Labor as an integral part of a co-curricular approach to business and leadership education. The FBLA mission is to bring business and education together in a positive working relationship through innovative leadership and career development programs.
- BOE members honored two GCPS educators on their recent recognition as K-12 Pipeline Teachers of the Year by the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA). Charles “Chaz” Kachmar, also known as Coach K, is a welding teacher at Maxwell High School of Technology, and Patrick Mahaffey is a construction teacher at Berkmar High School. CEFGA brings together business partners and proponents of careers in the trade industry. The award identifies those teachers who distinguish themselves by the quality of the workplace-ready students who graduate from their local school programs. These teachers also are recognized for their contributions toward educating students on the opportunities and value of careers in the construction industry.
- The Gwinnett County Board of Education saluted Linda Minor and Brandon Myers of Maxwell High School of Technology who both were honored this past summer by the Georgia Association for Career and Technical Education (GACTE). Ms. Minor, an Airflight Operations teacher, was honored with the Trade and Industrial Educators of Georgia’s Carl D. Perkins Community Service Award. Mr. Myers, who teaches Manufacturing, was selected as New Teacher of the Year by the Georgia Affiliate for Engineering and Technology Education. GACTE honors those teachers and leaders who have been instrumental in furthering Career and Technical Education in their classrooms, schools, and communities. Each of these educators was named the state winner in the curriculum area that they teach. The mission of GACTE is to provide educational leadership in developing a competitive workforce by providing a wide range of opportunities for teachers and students throughout the state.
Peach State Federal Credit Union recognizes Board Chairman Louise Radloff
Peach State Federal Credit Union President/CEO Marshall Boutwell outlined his organization’s long-standing history with the school system. In his remarks, he attributed much of the success of this partnership to the solid leadership of the Board of Education members. In particular, he acknowledged the longtime leadership of District V Board Member Louise Radloff, who will be leaving the Board in December having served on the Board since 1973. In recognition of her leadership and service to the children of Gwinnett County, Mr. Boutwell announced that the annual scholarship in Mrs. Radloff’s name will be increased from $2,000 to $5,000. This one-time award will be presented to a graduating senior from GCPS. The award has no minimum GPA and the scholarship can be applied to any form of postsecondary training or study that leads to employment. He also presented Mrs. Radloff with a glass sculpture “Leadership Flame.”
BOE approves budget development calendar
The Board of Education adopted the calendar of activities and dates associated with the adoption of the Fiscal Year 2022 budget (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022). The budget development calendar had been tabled since the Board’s September meeting. Key dates in the proposed calendar include the following: March 27, 2021- Saturday Board Budget Work Session; April 15, 2021- Board Budget Work Session and Adoption of Tentative Budget; May 20, 2021- First Public Budget Hearing; June 17, 2021- Second Public Budget Hearing, Final Budget Adoption, and Adoption of Tentative Millage Rate; and July 2021 (date TBD)- Final Adoption of Millage Rate.
Student Discipline Report
Eric Thigpen, executive director of Academic Support, and Randolph Irvin, director of Student Discipline and Behavioral Interventions, reviewed statistics and trends regarding discipline in Gwinnett schools. As part of the report, Mr. Thigpen shared the district’s goal to be firm, fair, and flexible in its approach to discipline. He and Mr. Irvin also reviewed interventions in place and other supports that are available to students.
Facilities and Operations report on COVID-19 response
Walt Martin, chief operations officer, updated Board members on key operational topics relevant to the district's response to COVID-19, including facility safety and cleanliness, personal protective equipment, air quality, and custodial and transportation processes.
GEMS Oversight Committee prepares to meet
Dr. Clay Hunter, interim associate superintendent for Curriculum and Instructional Support, provided an overview of the next convening of the Gwinnett Educational Management System (GEMS) Oversight Committee, which will take place virtually on November 5. The committee, composed of citizens and educators, meets annually to review the Academic Knowledge and Skills curriculum for certain courses and to make recommendations for revisions to the standards. This year marks the 25th annual meeting of this committee. Of the 71 members of the committee, 64 are returning members. More than half of the committee’s participants are community members and parents. During this year’s meeting, the committee members will review 77 courses. Included in the review are two courses—Critical Literacy and Ethnic Studies—for which new standards will be piloted, beginning in January.
District’s focus on equity evident in update
The district’s Chief Equity and Compliance Officer, Dr. Tommy Welch, updated the BOE on the progress of the Office of Equity and the equity teams that are meeting this fall. The teams, composed of local school and district staff, are reviewing and developing school district procedures, accountability measures, and plans for support to move forward the Board's Educational Equity Policy. Dr. Welch wrapped up his presentation to the Board by providing an overview of the Equity Improvement Cycle and the three phases that are a part of this work. In Phase 1, the six equity teams are analyzing and making suggestions for improvement of structures, including policies, procedures, and the budget. In phases 2 and 3, the work will focus on accountability, the annual Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) process, and improvement of supports that are available to students, families, and staff.
Community-Based Mentoring report shares the power of mentoring
In 2009, Gwinnett County Public Schools proactively developed a Community-Based Mentoring program to connect caring adults in the community with Black male students in grades 4 through 12 to provide guidance, encouragement, and support to help them become successful young adults, both in and out of school. James Rayford, director of Academic Support, reviewed the program’s history and growth, noting that in 2020, the program served 624 students and coordinated the support of 277 volunteer mentors. The program’s success can be measured in the lives it touches. In particular, students who are involved in the district’s mentoring efforts have experienced improvements academically and in the areas of attendance and discipline.
Renewal of the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (E-SPLOST) on the Nov. 3 ballot
On November 3, Gwinnett County voters will consider renewing the education special purpose local option sales tax (E-SPLOST) for another five-year period. Since 1997, the sales tax has funded new schools and classrooms, technology advancements, safety enhancements, instructional resources, athletic projects, and other capital improvements that support students and their education. The current E-SPLOST, which applies to purchases made by anyone who shops in Gwinnett County, sunsets on June 30, 2022. The requested renewal would allow the school district to continue collecting the penny in sales tax through June 30, 2027. Chief of Staff Berney Kirkland reviewed the district’s efforts to inform the community about the ballot item, what the sales tax would fund, and how it would benefit all students in Gwinnett County Public Schools and Buford City Schools.
District reviewing calendar options for 2021-2022
During the Board work session, Dr. Steve Flynt, associate superintendent for School Improvement and Operations, presented three calendar options the district is considering for next school year. In developing options, the following parameters were taken into consideration: 180 school days, 10 planning/staff development days, two early release days in each semester for ES/MS, three early release days in each semester for HS exams, one week break for Thanksgiving, Winter Break, one week break for Spring Break, end the first semester prior to Winter Break and end second semester prior to Memorial Day. Of the three calendars currently under consideration, Option 1 is much like the current calendar. It calls for a start date of Aug. 4 and an end date of May 25. Option 2 calls for a start date of Aug. 4. However, with a staggered return to the classroom by grade level, some students will learn remotely until their grade level is scheduled to return to in-person learning. Option 3 also calls for a staggered start for students, with a start date of Aug. 9. Options 2 and 3 both include six digital learning days—three in first semester and three in second semester. These two options do not include built-in inclement weather days. Following are the three options: Option 1, Option 2, and Option 3. Local schools are gathering feedback and it is anticipated that a final calendar will be shared at next month’s meeting.
Board of Education approves learning opportunities for its members
As part of their ongoing development, members of the Board of Education participate in a variety of learning opportunities. At tonight’s meeting, Board members authorized allowing members to virtually attend the 2020 Georgia School Boards Association/Georgia School Superintendents Association’s Annual Conference, which will be held in Atlanta, December 2-4, 2020. In other action, it authorized members to attend the National School Boards Association’s Advocacy Institute and Equity Symposium, which will be held in Washington, D.C., January 23-26, 2021.
Policy work continues
The Board of Education approved the following policy that had been tabled at its September meeting to allow for public input:
Policy JBCB – Awarding Units of Credits and Acceptance of Transfer Credits— Changes have been made in accordance with policy guidance and/or mandates in state and/or federal law.
Citizens addressing the Board
- Alex Stein
- Anyah Jones
- Dr. Tarece Johnson
- Tanisha Banks
- Anthony Downer
- Brian Westlake
- Rachel Ash
- Yacine Kout