Gwinnett school chief stresses keeping schools off state takeover list

Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks is not divulging where he stands on the hotly-debated voter referendum in November that would allow the state to takeover chronically low-performing schools.

His plan, instead, is to keep Gwinnett schools off the proposed takeover list.

“It’s like your vehicle,” Wilbanks said Wednesday in his annual State of the School District address, organized by the county’s Chamber of Commerce. “It’s easier to keep it out of the ditch than it is to get it out of the ditch.”

Under Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed plan, failing schools are defined as those scoring below 60 on the state Education Department’s annual measure, the College and Career Performance Index, for three consecutive years.

Currently, there are no Gwinnett schools on the list, but a few are close. Eight district-run schools had CCRPI scores between 60 and 65 in the most recent results released in May. Four district-run schools had CCRPI scores between 60 and 65 the prior year.

Wilbanks mentioned several measures Gwinnett has enacted in recent years that he hopes will improve student performance, such as creating curriculum tracks related to various careers in seven high schools and dual-language programs in some elementary schools.

Wilbanks also briefly discussed:

  • his administration’s ongoing efforts to improve teacher compensation, which he hopes to enact by next school year.
  • his general support of Deal’s commission to improve education, saying it must include more money to school districts.
  • his concerns that the new federal education law will not give school districts enough flexibility.

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