SUWANEE -- Members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education expressed concern Thursday about proposed legislation that would change the funding formula for equalization grants.
The equalization grants allow 75 percent of the state's school systems to receive more state funding. The wealthiest school districts in the state do not receive the grant.
Gwinnett County Public Schools, which ranks 63 out of 180 school systems in terms of wealth, currently receives about $35.8 million in equalization grants. That's about $224 per student.
Under the proposed funding formula change, Gwinnett would receive about $57 per student, or about $9.1 million. School system officials said the district would lose nearly $27 million.
During the school board's work session, Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said the proposal wouldn't save the state any money. Instead, it would redirect more money to some of the poorest school systems in the state.
"There are a number of people that think that some of the systems in the state due to the economy ... are in dire need," Wilbanks said. "This proposal would take the same amount of money and drive it to those systems."
School board member Louise Radloff said some people think Gwinnett is a wealthier county than it actually is.
"(Legislators are) saying that our students are of less value," Radloff said. " ... Citizens better pay attention to this."
School principals named
In other business, the school board approved the appointment of seven principals, six of whom will open new schools. All of the appointments are effective July 1.
Three of the new schools will be led by current Gwinnett County principals.
Joe Ahrens, the principal of Arcado Elementary School, will open Ferguson Elementary School in the Meadowcreek cluster. Ahrens has worked in the school system since 1995, serving as Arcado's principal since 2004. He has a specialist's degree in educational leadership.
Rockbridge Elementary School principal Dion Jones will open Roberts Elementary School in the North Gwinnett cluster. Jones, who has a doctoral degree in educational leadership, has been the principal at Rockbridge since 2004. He began working for the school system in 1995.
Dot Schoeller, the principal of Simonton Elementary School, will open Jenkins Elementary School in the Central Gwinnett cluster. The former physical education teacher has led Simonton since 2004. She joined Gwinnett County Public Schools in 1996 and has a doctoral degree in educational leadership.
Two graduates of the school system's training program for aspiring principals, the Quality-Plus Leader Academy, were tapped to open schools.
Lawanna Owens-Twaites, an assistant principal at Lawrenceville Elementary School, will open Anderson-Livsey Elementary School in the Shiloh cluster. Owens-Twaites, who is completing a doctoral program, has been an administrator since 2003. She taught in New York and Fulton County before coming to Gwinnett in 2000.
Kimberly Reed, an assistant principal at Freeman's Mill Elementary, will open Burnette Elementary in the Peachtree Ridge cluster. Reed has been an administrator since 2002 and has a specialist's degree in leadership and administration. She taught in Habersham and Hall counties before coming to Gwinnett.
Grace Snell Middle School will be opened by Joyce Spraggs, who serves as the director of internal resolution, employee clearance and unemployment compensation in the Human Resources Division. She previously served as the principal of Sweetwater Middle School and began her career in education in 1983 as a special education teacher in DeKalb County. She has a specialist's degree in educational administration and supervision.
In the seventh appointment, Chris Godfrey, an assistant principal at Patrick Elementary School, was chosen to lead Sugar Hill Elementary School. Godfrey, who has a specialist's degree in educational leadership, has been an educator since 1993.