Work Session Budget Work Session Business Meeting April 15, 2021, School Board Work Session Stream:
To view the recorded Work Session, please click on the meeting link.
April 15, 2021, School Board Work Session Stream:
To view the recorded Budget Work Session, please click on the meeting link.
April 15, 2021, School Board Business Meeting Stream:
To view the recorded Business Meeting, please click on the meeting link.
The following are highlights of the April 15, 2021, meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education (BOE). Board members present included Chairman Everton Blair, Jr., Vice Chairman Karen Watkins, Steven B. Knudsen, Dr. Mary Kay Murphy (virtually), and Dr. Tarece Johnson. The official minutes of the meeting will be approved by the Board at its next monthly meeting.
Board tentatively adopts FY2022 budget
Prior to its monthly business meeting, the Gwinnett County Board of Education held its second budget work session. Following this work session, the Board tentatively adopted the fiscal year 2022 budget in the total expenditure amount of $2,352,649,340 as recommended by CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. Next steps are two public hearings, scheduled for May 20 at 6 p.m. and June 17 at 6 p.m. Following these hearings, the Board will adopt the budget and set a tentative millage rate. The final millage rate adoption will take place in July.
Board salutes aspiring leaders and award-winning students and staff
Board members congratulated the 44 graduates of the twelfth cohort of the Aspiring Leader Program (ALP). This program, which is a part of the district’s Quality-Plus Leader Academy, prepares teachers to serve as an assistant principal, an administrative intern, or a community school director. The members of this graduating class have completed a seven-month course of study that included an in-house residency in the form of individualized leadership experiences. To date, 23 members (52%) of this cohort have been appointed as an assistant principal. A total of 545 graduates (85%) from the twelve cohorts of the Aspiring Leader Program have been appointed to leadership positions in the district. Click here to see a listing of these up-and-coming leaders.
The Board honored Taloria Merricks of Brookwood High School on her top finish in the state August Wilson Monologue Competition, which is sponsored by Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company. The August Wilson Monologue Competition is a national competition, celebrating playwright August Wilson's words and inspiring high school students to find and express themselves through theatre. Students compete in 19 regions across the country. Those earning top spots are then eligible to compete on the national level in New York City. August Wilson was an American playwright who wrote a series of plays, each set in a different decade, depicting the comic and tragic aspects of the African-American experience in the 20th Century.
Two students-- Rayna Park of Hull Middle School and Huyen Pham of Northbrook Middle School—are Georgia’s 2020-21 Bus Safety Poster 1st Place Division Winners. Back in September, students across Gwinnett County Public Schools submitted works for the 2020-21 School Bus Safety Poster Contest, using the theme: “Be Safe, Know the Danger Zone.” With a collaborative effort between the Fine Arts office and the Transportation Department, the district selected winners to compete at the state level competition, sponsored by the Georgia Association for Pupil Transportation. These state winners will represent Georgia at the national competition, which the National Association for Pupil Transportation will adjudicate.
Gwinnett School Board members saluted April Pelfrey, a computer science teacher at Central Gwinnett High School, on her selection as the winner of the National Council for Women and Information Technology’s (NCWIT) Georgia Aspirations in Computing Educator Award for 2021. The NCWIT is a non-profit community that convenes, equips, and unites organizations to increase the influential and meaningful participation of girls and women in the field of computing, particularly in terms of innovation and development. This award recognizes teachers who distinguish themselves by teaching, encouraging, and supporting women in the Information Technology field.
Eleven students from five Gwinnett schools received a nod from Board members for their 1st and 2nd place finishes at the HOSA – Future Health Professionals Georgia conference. The HOSA organization provides students with opportunities to develop as leaders and future employees in the healthcare field. HOSA currently serves more than 15,000 members in Georgia and 235,000 members nationwide. Through this organization, Gwinnett County Public Schools’ students have the opportunity to participate in leadership development activities and compete in a variety of events on regional, state, national, and sometimes international levels. Gwinnett’s honored HOSA students, the schools they attend, and the areas in which they took honors were:
Shiloh Middle School
Health Care Preparation
Central Gwinnett High School
Technical Education Program
Mill Creek High School
North Gwinnett High School
Three North Gwinnett Middle School students earned state honors as 1st and 2nd place winners at the virtual Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) State Career Development Conference held in January 2021. Katherina Traykova earned 1st place in Middle School Marketing Role Play. Amy Ndoye placed 2nd in the Principles of Finance category. Mrinali Pathak placed 2nd in the Principles of Hospitality and Tourism category. DECA is an international association of middle school, 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.
Three GCPS students brought home top honors from the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) state conference held in March 2021. Jamal Sayid of Grayson High School won 1st place in the Personal Finance category. Reagan Patterson of Brookwood High School won 2nd place in the Electronic Career Portfolio category. Adin Ibrulj of Creekland Middle School placed 2nd in the Introduction to Computer Science and Coding category. FBLA is the largest career student business organization in the world. Through organizations such as this, Gwinnett County Public Schools’ students have the opportunity to participate in leadership development activities and compete in a variety of events on regional, state, and national levels. The students honored tonight will have the opportunity to participate in the national leadership conference this June.
The Board of Education congratulated three additional CTE students on their top finishes at the 2021 Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) state conference, which was held. Aiza Ahmad of Mountain View High School won 1st place in the Chapter in Review Portfolio Level 2 category. Mountain View’s Savannah Greene won 1st place in the Creed and Speaking category. Sophia Vasquez, who attends Peachtree Ridge High School, placed 2nd in the Professional Presentation category. FCCLA offers intra-curricular resources and opportunities for students to pursue careers that support families. More than 182,000 students from 48 states participate in this program nationwide. Through these organizations, Gwinnett County Public Schools’ students have the opportunity to participate in leadership development activities and compete in a variety of events on regional, state, national, and sometimes international levels.
Board members honored the Gwinnett HEAT Adapted Sports Basketball Team on its state championship season. On March 13, the Gwinnett HEAT won their second state championship, defeating the Houston County Sharks in the Georgia High School Association’s Adapted Sports State Championship game. The HEAT’s 42-25 victory allowed them to dethrone the Sharks who were the eight-time defending state champs. Adapted Sports Coordinator Mike Phillips thanked Board members for their support of the adapted sports program and shared that this year’s win was a total team effort. In addition to introducing the student athletes, he thanked the Gwinnett HEAT coaching staff which is led by Head Coach Len Boudreaux.
In other state championship news, Mill Creek High School’s Coed Competition Cheerleading Team was honored as the 2021 AAAAAAA state champs. This is the team’s third consecutive coed competition state championship. Principal Jason Lane shared his pride in the team’s accomplishments, praising Head Coach Katy Fowler. In her remarks, Coach Fowler thanked the Board for honoring the team, her school administration for their support, and the families of the athletes involved in the program. She shared that despite the many challenges the team faced—including quarantines and injuries—her kids persevered, coming together and doing their best.
Mill Creek High School’s Competitive Dance Team also brought home a AAAAAAA state championship in 2021. This is the third consecutive competitive dance state championship won by the school’s team. In introducing the team, Principal Lane indicated that the hard work and dedication of these students and their coach is something of which their entire community should be very proud. In her comments about her team and their sport, Head Coach Suzanne Muck praised competitive dance, which is a relatively new sport, as an opportunity for students to participate in the arts and in a sport they love.
Wrapping up the night’s honors, the Board saluted North Gwinnett High School’s Game Day Cheer Team on its 2021 AAAAAAA state championship performance. Game Day Cheer is a collegiate-style competition that includes band chant, crowd leading, and fight songs. The North Gwinnett High School Bulldogs won this event two years ago, but this is the first year that Game Day Cheer has been recognized as an official GHSA sport. Principal Nathan Ballantine thanked the Board for allowing all of the student athletes in GCPS the opportunity to compete this year. He also thanked Head Coach Tabitha Johnson for her commitment to students in the classroom and as they compete. In her remarks, Coach Johnson said how grateful and honored she was to be at the Board meeting, celebrating the success of her student athletes. She described the team members as ladies who are leaders on the sideline, in the classroom, and in the Suwanee community.
Board of Education expresses appreciation to Gwinnett, Newton, and Rockdale County Health Departments and Northside Hospital Gwinnett for their support to vaccinate GCPS employees
Gwinnett County Public Schools recognized partnerships with the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Departments and Northside Hospital Gwinnett and these organizations’ exceptional support of the school district and its initiatives. They both played instrumental roles in providing COVID-19 vaccinations to GCPS staff, collaborating with district staff to address logistic and operational challenges. The health department and hospital have a long history of working with the school district to support the health and welfare of our students and staff. Accepting the award on behalf of the health department was Dr. Audrey Arona, District Health Director. Northside Hospital Gwinnett leaders receiving the Board’s thanks included Jay Dennard, Chief Operations Officer; Tawny Waltz, Manager of Operations and Emergency Management; and Leslie Hackler, Senior Management Consultant.
Central Gwinnett Cluster presents update to the BOE
The Board of Education wishes to hear from constituents regarding what they believe to be the accomplishments, challenges, and aspirations for their cluster schools. As part of this effort, each Monthly Business Meeting of the Board includes a presentation from a cluster in one Board member's electoral district. The Central Gwinnett Cluster, which includes schools in Districts I and II, was featured at tonight’s meeting. Central Gwinnett High School Principal Shane Orr provided a brief introduction for the cluster’s presentation, which included remarks from a parent, a teacher, and a student. As part of the introduction, representatives from the cluster’s six feeder schools— Jenkins, Lawrenceville, Simonton, and Winn Holt elementary schools and Jordan and Moore middle schools— and Oakland Meadow School were introduced. Primary themes emphasized throughout the speakers’ remarks included:
- Schools that understand that great schools and communities rely on each other, building and sustaining each other... As a result, the Central Gwinnett Cluster is one U“Knight”ed community filled with very, very proud Black Knights;
- A partnership with the City of Lawrenceville that has grown stronger and more collaborative over 64 years;
- Unique curricular opportunities, including the School of the Arts at Central Gwinnett which will open in the fall on the Central Gwinnett campus;
- Concerns about the impact of the pandemic, but pride in how their schools have responded with compassion and action;
- The importance of school culture and the work the Central Gwinnett Cluster is doing to create schools where students and teachers want to be and to foster collaborative relationships; and
- A review of the broad range of experiences that allow students to explore and excel.
School Board approves naming of road leading to Grayson High School’s Football Field after Charlie Conn
The Board approved a recommendation from Grayson High School’s Local School Council to name the road leading to the school’s football field Charlie Conn Way. Mr. Conn is a long-time volunteer and supporter of Grayson Football and Grayson High School in general. He helped to raise funds to build the bleachers at the stadium and build the strength center. He was seen multiple times per week out on the football fields providing for the fields' upkeep. Always keeping student safety in mind, he was an advocate to expand the referenced road to a two-lane road and sought better lighting along the road. Both of these improvements have been made as part of recent renovations at the school. The School Council felt this was an appropriate way to acknowledge Mr. Conn and his selfless efforts to better their community.
Board reviews leadership diversity efforts in GCPS
Dr. Jeff Mathews, assistant superintendent for Leadership Development, and Dr. Kendra Washington-Bass, executive director of Leadership Development, provided School Board members with the current status of leadership diversity in our schools, and the intentional journey GCPS has taken to improve the diversity of its leaders with the purpose of improving educational opportunities for students. As part of the presentation, Dr. Mathews provided a historical context and the established need for additional leaders that led to the development of the Quality-Plus Leader Academy. He reviewed the admissions and screening processes and GCPS’ leader tracking system that helps the district identify and address future needs. The training provided through these leadership development programs bridges the gap between theory and practice for aspiring leaders. Since its inception, the Aspiring Principal Program (APP), which prepares assistant principals for the principal role, has had 269 graduates. Of those APP graduates, 215 have been appointed to leadership roles with 126 serving currently as principals and 30 others serving as district leaders. The Aspiring Leader Program (ALP), which prepares teachers for the leadership transition to an assistant principal role, has nearly 600 graduates. Of those ALP graduates, 550 have been appointed to a leadership position, with 389 serving as current assistant principals and 26 who are now principals in the district. As part of her presentation on the success of the programs, Dr. Washington-Bass discussed the work that has been done to grow and diversify the leadership pipeline. She pointed out that, in Gwinnett, nearly 43% of school principals and assistant principals are leaders of color. She also shared that the program is focused on increasing the number of Hispanic and Asian leaders in the pipeline and reviewed the work that is currently occurring to continue to grow and improve the program. In addition to Drs. Mathews and Washington-Bass, Board members heard from Dr. Dorothy Kindred, an assistant principal at Meadowcreek High School, who spoke about her experiences in the leadership program.
School Board continues review of policies
The Board of Education tabled the following proposed policy changes for another month allowing for further input:
· Policy ABB - Board Powers and Duties/Members’ Legal Status—Proposed changes have been made in accordance with policy guidance and/or mandates in state and/or federal law.
· Policy ABCA - Number of Board Members/Terms of Office—Proposed changes are in accordance with policy guidance and/or mandates in state and/or federal law.
· Policy BA - Board Goals and Objectives—Proposed changes are in accordance with policy guidance and/or mandates in state and/or federal law.
· Policy BBABA - Duties of Board Officers—Changes have been proposed in accordance with policy guidance and/or mandates in state and/or federal law.
· Policy BBBB - New Board Member Orientation—Changes have been proposed in accordance with policy guidance and/or mandates in state and/or federal law.
· Policy BCAB - School Board Meetings—Proposed changes are in accordance with policy guidance and/or mandates in state and/or federal law.
· Policy BCBI- Public Participation in Board Meetings, which was originally placed on the table at the February meeting, will remain on the table for another month.
In new business, the Board of Education placed proposed policy changes to Policy JCD- Student Conduct Behavior Code on the table until next month’s business meeting to allow for public input. Proposed changes have been made in accordance with policy guidance and/or mandates in state and/or federal law.
Board adopts instructional resources for the 2021-22 school year
The Gwinnett County Board of Education adopted instructional resources for select courses in the areas of language arts, social studies, foreign language and dual language immersion, and career and technical education. This core materials adoption will cost approximately $4,800,000.
Citizens addressing the Board
- Sherie Green
- Lisa McCoy
- Samuel Hundley
- Exquisitive Hundley
- Marlyn Tillman
- Alex Stein
- Courtney Taylor
- Nina Marx
- Steve Smith
- Jacob Warren
- Cathy Loew
- Jacob Gleghorn
- Brandi Rodriguez
- Candice Kent
- Melvin Melton
- Rick Donahue
- Brian Westlake
- Gabrielle Lorentz
- Christina Fishback
- Clint Fishback
- Holly Terei
- Senator Nikki Merritt