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GCPS to hire additional teachers; 2 principals named

SUWANEE — A spike in enrollment has caused Gwinnett County Public Schools to hang the help wanted sign.

After the post-Labor Day enrollment count was 1.22 percent over district projections, district officials said on Thursday that they would post 35 to 40 new teaching positions available immediately. Frances Davis, chief of human resources, told the Gwinnett County Board of Education members that the district has made 976 new teacher hires, 453 rehires and 86 rehired retirees for the new school year.

The current enrollment stands at 168,696.

The largest schools in the county are Mill Creek High (3,721 students), Hull Middle (2,290 students) and Nesbit Elementary (1,948 students).

“We don’t make adjustments in staff until we have all of these counts completed,” Davis said.

There are 10 current vacancies; three each at the elementary and middle school levels, and four at the high school levels.

Davis also said the district no longer has the option of Cigna or United Healthcare for a health care coverage provider, and would instead use Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia. Employees would no longer have an HMO, but be under a health reimbursement arrangement, Davis said.

BCBS offers three levels of coverage, bronze, silver and gold, Davis said. The bronze would decrease the premium based on current coverage, the silver could increase or decrease and the gold would increase across the board.

“We’re paying for more, and probably getting somewhat less,” Davis said.

District makes 2 principal appointments

District officials announced two principal appointments at the board meeting for Berkmar Middle and Grace Snell Middle.

Jose DeJesus, principal of Beaver Ridge Elementary, will replace Kenney Wells, who becomes a Human Resources Staffing Director in the school district’s Division of Human Resources and Talent Management.

DeJesus was principal at Beaver Ridge since 2009, and previously an assistant principal at Berkeley Lake Elementary and Berkmar High.

Deborah Harris, principal of Bethesda Elementary, will lead Grace Snell Middle as Principal Joyce Spraggs transitions to the Division of Human Resources and Talent Management as director of Equity and Compliance. Harris had been Bethesda’s principal since 2007, and previously was assistant principal at Meadowcreek High, and a speech-language pathologist at Annistown Elementary, Shiloh Elementary and Rockbridge Elementary.

District spokesman Jorge Quintana said DeJesus and Harris wouldn’t start at their new school until their replacements at their current schools are named.

District reviews bus stop arm camera contract

The district also reviewed a bid protest from American Traffic Solutions related to a contract it awarded in July to Redflex Traffic Systems for bus stop arm cameras to be implemented on district buses.

“We have reviewed that thoroughly,” Superintendent/CEO J. Alvin Wilbanks said. “We do not believe there is anything that would disqualify the bidder.”

Wilbanks said the contract would move forward with Redflex.

Agreement with City Schools of Decatur

Wilbanks also announced that the district entered into an agreement with City Schools of Decatur for students in the alternative school program.

“They have very few, sometimes no students, at alternative schools,” Wilbanks said. “If they do, we will take those students and they will reimburse us for cost.”

Levengood honored

J. Michael Levengood was given the Gwinnett County Public Schools Public Service Award during the regular board meeting. Levengood joins Woody Woodruff and Jim Maran, who previously were honored with the award.

Levengood has contributed to GCPS for 25 years, including volunteer commitments in the Parkview cluster where his three children graduated. He also served on committees for education special local option sales tax, superintendent’s councils and is a member of the GCPS Foundation.

“Suffice it to say that Mike Levengood is well-deserving of this award,” Wilbanks said. “He’s a proven friend of public education. Mike, we can’t think of anyone that’s more deserving than you.”

Board Chair Carole Boyce said Levengood was a tremendous role model for students.

“You are one nice guy on top of everything else,” Boyce said. “You have done so many wonderful things for our community.”

Levengood thanked his family, including his parents who were in attendance, for support.

“Only in Gwinnett County can you be part of a team where parents understand public education is a part of success,” he said.