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What’s new for school?

by J. Alvin Wilbanks, CEO/Superintendent  //  Gwinnett County Public Schools

“What’s new in Gwinnett County Public Schools?” That’s a question we often hear as we approach the beginning of a new school term. The answer for 2019-2020 includes a number of planned initiatives and improvements that you can read about in this edition of Gwinnett Magazine. Three, however, are particularly significant.

First, we will open a new school in August, and it’s going to be special! McClure Health Science High School (MHSHS) will become the second “theme” high school in GCPS, serving primarily students in the Meadowcreek Cluster. At McClure Health Science HS, students will study a rigorous, college-preparatory curriculum through the lens of health science. Their instructional program will combine coursework with practical experiences in various health science fields. The facility is uniquely designed to support learning that will prepare McClure graduates to move into the workforce or continue their education in a high-needs employment area for Gwinnett County.

The second item to highlight is phase two of an initiative that began in August 2017. We launched our Performance-Based Teacher Compensation System that month with a new salary schedule that moves teachers to higher pay levels based on performance the previous year. This fall, we will present “Performance-Based Awards” to 30 percent of our teachers whose work with students in the classroom was outstanding. At every school, the top 20 percent of eligible teachers will earn an award, along with the top 10 percent district wide. We believe rewarding excellence in teaching should be a priority. In addition to supporting teacher recruitment, retention, and morale, it’s the right thing to do for the teachers who are at the heart of what we do.

Lastly, we have been working to revise the “Strategic Priorities for 2010-2020,” a foundational component of GCPS’ strategic direction. The document captures what we and our stakeholders want in various components of the organization, from our people to our programs to our processes. We’ve spent almost six months gathering feedback to use in crafting the “Strategic Priorities for 2020-2030” and we look forward to sharing them with you this fall.

We anticipate 2019-2020 to be another outstanding year of teaching and learning for our 180,000-plus students. As always, we will be ready to go when the school bell rings on August 5. There’s nothing “new” about that!