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GCPS projects to top 180K students in 5 years

SUWANEE — The 13th largest school district in the country continues to grow, even in the wake of the economic downturn.

Gwinnett County Public Schools officials announced on Thursday during a work session with the Gwinnett County Board of Education that student population growth will continue for the foreseeable future. Steve Flynt, chief strategy and performance officer with the district, said the district projects the 2014-15 school year to have 3,063 more students for a total of 172,213.

What’s more, in five years, Flynt said the district is expected to top 180,000 students enrolled.

“We don’t see that growth slowing down anytime soon,” Flynt said.

The district currently counts 169,150 students, up 4,173 students from the 2012-13 school year.

Flynt said the district remains one of the fastest-growing in Georgia and the Southeast. The next closest in Georgia are Cobb County (110,001 students), DeKalb County (99,398) and Fulton County (95,232).

That growth means redistricting will return to Gwinnett.

The district expects to announce a redistricing schedule in September, and it will occur between October and December.

The redistricting will affect the Berkmar/Central Gwinnett relief cluster high school and elementary school, the Central Gwinnett cluster middle school and the Meadowcreek cluster elementary school.

Other moves include students from Summerour Middle moving to the old Norcross High School next door.

There will be a consolidation of the New Life Academy of Excellence Charter School Norcross and Duluth campuses into the Duluth campus for the 2014-15 school year.

The ADAPT program is also scheduled to relocate to Northbrook Middle beginning with the 2014-15 school year.

JROTC growth

The district’s JROTC programs also continue to grow. In a report on Thursday, Jody Reeves, the director of the office of career and technical education, said the district has grown from four units in 2005 to nine this year, and Meadowcreek High plans to add an Air Force unit soon.

The district’s nine units are at Collins Hill (Air Force), Duluth (Navy), Grayson (Army), Norcross (Army), North Gwinnett (Air Force), Parkview (Marines), Peachtree Ridge (Navy), Shiloh (Air Force) and South Gwinnett (Army). New units at Collins Hill and Grayson have 169 and 122 cadets, respectively. South Gwinnett, meanwhile, has 228 cadets and it’s only three years old.

“I do believe this program helps school culture, our communities and our families,” Reeves said.

The units provide leadership, community service and physical fitness activities, Reeves said, and several of the units have ongoing relationships with other schools in their cluster.

Reeves said Collins Hill, Grayson and Meadowcreek units are solely funded by the district, while the others have shared funding with the federal government.

Board member Dr. Robert McClure applauded the units.

“I believe it’s a great indicator of how much we value how much the military means to us and our way of life,” he said. “Kids need to be exposed to it, and it’s a good thing for our community. It’s something that makes me feel very proud.”

District reports special education compliance

In an annual report of how the Georgia Department of Education evaluates the district’s special education services, Paula Everett-Truppi, executive director for special education and psychological services, said the district was 95 percent compliant in eight areas after it scored 19 out of a possible 20.

Everett-Truppi said she was especially pleased in evaluations of babies before their third birthday that were suspected to have a disability.

Teach Gwinnett update

Nikki Mouton, executive director for curriculum and instruction, updated the Board on the district’s Teach Gwinnett alternative certification program.

Mouton said the program has 57 candidates enrolled this school year, and nearly 65 percent of those are in the district’s critical needs areas of special education, science and math.

It’s had 343 graduates since 2008, and its attrition rate is on par with the district’s, at less than eight percent.