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Wilbanks outlines district initiatives

SUGAR HILL -- During the first area school board meeting Tuesday evening, Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks discussed four strategic initiatives that will developed over the next five years.

The initiatives address leadership development, personnel evaluations, digital learning and school construction.

"They're the things that the (school) board and I discuss. They're things we need to do," Wilbanks said during the meeting at Lanier High School. "They're things that we are currently saying, here's where we're putting a lot of our efforts to make sure we become a better school system."

The first initiative is the expansion of the Quality-Plus Leader Academy, which contains training programs for both aspiring principals and assistant principals. Wilbanks said he thinks the academy is an initiative that will strengthen leadership teams throughout the county.

The second initiative is the development of a revised personnel evaluation system, which is set to be fully implemented in 2013-14. Wilbanks said the new evaluation system will be designed to make sure every person at every level in the district is doing what's expected and will reward those who are doing a great job.

"It's natural that there's some anxiety about this," Wilbanks said, "but if you're doing a good job, you don't have anything to worry about. Whatever the metrics are, you'll do a good job (on the evaluation)."

The third initiative is the development of a system called eCLASS, which is a digital content, learning, assessment and support system. As part of this system, the school system will move from printed to digital texts and instructional materials, Wilbanks said.

The first phase of this initiative will be completed Thursday, but the full implementation will take four or five years to complete, Wilbanks said.

Wilbanks said he thinks this system will benefit students and teachers. For students, eCLASS will encourage 24/7 learning that's not restricted to the four walls of the classroom. For teachers, the system will provide access to data that will provide a description of the student, as well as prescriptive and diagnostic information.

Finally, the school system will be revising "The Plan," which is the district's schedule of school construction. A revision was needed because the original plan was developed prior to the recession. Furthermore, although the school system is still growing, it's not adding students at the pace it was six years ago.

As part of the revision of the plan, the school system will be looking to renew the special purpose local option sales tax, a 1 percent sales tax that must be approved by voters.