Dr. Calvin Watts, Superintendent for Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS), addressed members of the Gwinnett Chamber during its monthly membership meeting on September 20 at Sonesta Gwinnett Place. The regularly held luncheon billed by the private, not-for-profit organization, as “On Topic: State of the Schools” was presented by Porter Steel and designed for the business community to learn how the school system was working to grow talent for job opportunities.

Watts opened by sharing a few fast facts about the school system. It now serves 182,026 students which is an increase of about 800 students over this same time last year. There are 142 facilities serving these students through charter schools, specialty schools, and elementary, middle, and high schools in the County. Watts also reported that $231 million had been awarded in scholarships for Gwinnett schools’ 2023 graduating class, and the graduation rate across the school system had increased from 82 to 83 percent in the last year. He also noted that GCPS operates at a little more than $3 billion every year, averaging approximately $12,000 per individual to educate every student in Gwinnett.

What rang true to everyone in the room was the school’s strategic plan founded on empathy, equity, effectiveness, and excellence. Its goals are the blueprint for the future of GCPS. Watts shared that the system was now in its second year of executing this strategic plan and through its website, social media, and newsletters, had launched its “Blueprint in Action” campaign. “A picture’s worth a thousand words,” said Watts as he showed various images of students learning in the classroom. “We are focused on teaching and learning; readiness for their future, not ours.” Watts highlighted the system’s website where key performance indicators and bi-annual updates on progress are located, and he invited attendees to join the Board of Education work sessions and upcoming business meetings, all of which are free, public events posted on the school’s website.

Watts summed up his address by sharing that the school system would remain dedicated to a culture focused on teaching and learning, a safe and secure school system with “Raptor” security technology installed system-wide, and the sustained fiscal health of GCPS. He concluded by sharing how the school system creates a sense of belonging for every life it touches and let this video, “Everyone Belongs” speak to that end.

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Gwinnett Chamber facilities are currently under renovation.