Staff Photo: Keith Farner School board member Mary Kay Murphy speaks to principals, teachers and school council members on Thursday at an annual breakfast for the North Gwinnett cluster schools at Riverside Elementary.
SUWANEE -- As school principals, teachers and school council members met on Thursday for a breakfast at Riverside Elementary, they discussed many current topics that affect North Gwinnett cluster schools, but also schools around the state and country. A mother of four who is active on several school councils, booster clubs and other organizations reiterated the Gwinnett County Public Schools' official stance of a 'No' vote on the charter schools amendment question that will be on Nov. 6 ballots.
North Gwinnett High Principal Ed Shaddix also explained a new graduation rate calculation formula that could lead to what looks to be lower graduation rates, but Shaddix said that's because the new formula is designed to more easily compare state-by-state figures.
The new formula, called the "cohort rate," measures any student that attended a school for any length of time during a four-year period. The previous formula, called the "leaver rate," measured the number of students who graduate with regular diplomas compared with the number of dropouts, graduates and other completers.
In the last year since the cohort rate was adopted, Shaddix said through research to update the school's figures, he's found students who were considered dropouts, but were currently enrolled in college or medical school.
That's why when the first rates are released under the new formula, North's graduation rate could potentially dip from the low 90s to the mid-80s.
"We didn't quit teaching school," Shaddix said. "The results are still there."
When he began his presentation, Shaddix referred to several areas where North students were first or second in the county, including history, economics, language arts and biology. And the students' ACT scores were first in the county, while their SAT scores were second.
That's why Shaddix applauded the teachers on hand.
"No matter how good a principal I am, and that's up for debate," he said, "it matters who's in that classroom."
While Shaddix' topic brought several questions and comments from the educators on hand, the council also discussed another widely hotly debated topic: Constitutional Amendment No. 1.
Elizabeth Tralongo, who is an active parent in the cluster's schools, reiterated the stance of a 'No' vote she also presented at the North Gwinnett Schools Foundation's Big T'Do gala last week.
"On the surface, this sounds like a very positive and worthwhile amendment," Tralongo said. "But to me, it's a wolf in sheep's clothing."
Tralongo said checks and balances in schools would be very different, and choices would be made by appointed officials, not elected officials. Tralongo also said she was concerned and disappointed in the wording of the question on the ballot.
Principals from all of the cluster's schools were on hand and gave presentations on topics that ranged from childhood obesity, to student leadership, the eClass initiative, college and career readiness and staff development.