Growing up
Gwinnett schools to open doors to record enrollment numbers

LAWRENCEVILLE - The new schools are ready. More than 1,500 teachers have been hired. The governor's $100 gift cards have been distributed.

And school officials said this week, the county is prepared to educate the 159,258 students expected to attend school this year.

"The bottom line is, we're ready to go, and we're looking forward to a very successful year," Associate Superintendent Cindy Loe told the Gwinnett County Board of Education.

Only one problem is foreseen for the start of the year: Seventh-grade social studies textbooks will not be available Monday for the first day of school, Loe said. The books should be available by the end of the week, and teachers have been asked to prepare lesson plans that don't depend on the textbooks.

The district's student population is expected to grow this year by about 7,200 students. In 2002, the district's enrollment in October was 122,570.

Adding that many new students every year is a challenge for the district, board member Robert McClure said.

To keep up with its growth, Gwinnett County Public Schools has to build facilities quickly, McClure said. All that construction is costly, but McClure said the facilities department has a record of finishing projects on time and on or under budget.

The district spent 33 percent less on the last billion dollars spent on construction than other school systems in metro Atlanta, McClure said. That's a savings that amounts to the cost of building 60 new elementary schools - and one that shows good stewardship as school officials work to bring the district's building needs in check by 2014, he said.

"Hopefully, we'll get ahead of the wave," he said. "From the school system's perspective, if we continue to offer a quality education, we'll continue to attract people here."

In 2009, Archer and Mountain View high schools will open with the potential to relieve overcrowding at the district's largest high schools. Mill Creek High, which is expected this year to enroll more than 4,000 students, will have 53 trailers on campus, Principal Jim Markham said. In the 2009-10 school year, the school could potentially be relieved of 1,500 students.

In the meantime, the school has a student management plan in place that will allow every child in school to have an adult they can go to with concerns, Markham said. He said it's his hope that students will feel the school is their "home away from home."

"Size is truly a relative thing," Markham said. "Learning occurs in trailers every day. Growth is something we've grown accustomed to in Gwinnett County, and we've (still) academically shown gains."

SideBar: Meet the board of education, new leaders

Board of Education

Louise Radloff, Chairwoman

' Lives in Norcross

' First took office in 1973; current term expires in 2008

' Represents District V, which includes the Meadowcreek cluster and parts of the Berkmar and Parkview clusters

' To contact her, call 770-923-4784.

Carole Boyce, Vice Chairwoman

' Lives in Dacula

' First took office in 2005; term expires in 2008

' Represents District I, which includes the Dacula and Central Gwinnett clusters and parts of the Brookwood, Berkmar, Collins Hill, Grayson and Mill Creek clusters, as well as the GIVE Center East, Hooper Renwick School, Phoenix High, Maxwell High School of Technology and the Oakland Meadow School

' To contact her, call 770-995-5334.

Daniel Seckinger

' Lives in Auburn

' First took office in 1995; current term expires in 2010

' Represents District II, which includes the North Gwinnett cluster and parts of the Collins Hill, Mill Creek and Peachtree Ridge clusters

' To contact him, call 770-962-3214.

Mary Kay Murphy

' Lives in Duluth

' First took office in 1997; current term expires in 2008

' Represents District III, which includes the Duluth and Norcross clusters and part of the Peachtree Ridge clusters, as well as Monarch School and Buchanan High School of Technology

' To contact her, call 770-840-9752.

Robert McClure

' Lives in Lilburn

' First took office in 1995; current term expires in 2010

' Represents District IV, which includes the Shiloh and South Gwinnett clusters and parts of the Berkmar, Brookwood, Grayson and Parkview clusters

' To contact him, call 770-736-0001.

New leaders

' Margaret Ackerman


Patrick Elementary

' Laurie Allison


Lovin Elementary

' Monica Batiste


J.A. Alford Elementary

' Banks Bitterman

Dean of Academics

Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology

' Paul Brooksher


Dacula Elementary

' Debra Dees


Brookwood High

' Georgann Eaton


Sweetwater Middle

' Paula Everett-Truppi


J.P. McConnell Middle

' Maryanne Grimes


GIVE Center West

' Deborah Harris


Bethesda Elementary

' Dora Hill


Norcross Elementary

' Kim Holland


T. Carl Buice School

' Kelli McCain


Meadowcreek Elementary

' Nancy Morrison


Walnut Grove Elementary

' Angie Pacholke


Rock Springs Elementary

' Betty Ann Schoeneck


Shiloh Elementary

' Kim Smith


Suwanee Elementary

' Vivian Stranahan


Mulberry Elementary

' Calvin Watts


Trickum Middle