Volume 40 , Number 4January 24, 2020

Under the Gold Dome:
Funds for teacher raises, other education issues before lawmakers

Need-to-know highlights of this story:
The 2020 legislative session is underway.
A number of education issues will be considered by lawmakers.
Resources are available online to help you keep up with the latest Gold Dome news.
On Jan. 16, Gov. Brian Kemp delivered his State of the State remarks to a joint session of the 155th Georgia General Assembly, touching on school funding, teacher raises, and other education issues. Keep a close eye on Gold Dome proceedings throughout the session with these resources:
— Check out Gov. Kemp’s State of the State remarks— on video and in print.

— Review the governor’s budget recommendations for Amended FY2020 and FY2021 online. (The education notes start on page 170. Find budget highlights on pages 5–6.)

— Keep up with both chambers on the General Assembly website.

Subscribe online for regular updates, including bill tracking, through Capitol Watch, a free service of the Georgia School Boards Association.

— Watch a daily legislative wrap-up on “Lawmakers”— a program of Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB)— or check out live coverage of House and Senate proceedings.

— And, find a link to GCPS’ legislative priorities.
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Board conducts annual business, names chair in January meeting
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
The School Board elected Louise Radloff as 2020 Board Chair and Carole Boyce will serve as Vice Chair.
The Board also approved its 2020 meeting schedule.
The start of the 2020 calendar year is the time for the Gwinnett County Board of Education (BOE) to conduct its annual business, including leadership changes and calendar decisions. At the BOE’s Jan. 23 meeting, Louise Radloff, District V representative, was elected 2020 chairman. District I’s Carole Boyce was named to serve as vice chairman this year. In other annual business, the BOE reaffirmed its policies, designated the Gwinnett Daily Post as the official media organ for the school system, and retained Thompson, Sweeny, Kinsinger & Pereira, P.C. as the Board’s legal counsel. In December, Board members confirmed the 2020 meeting schedule. Remaining dates include Feb. 20, March 19, April 16, May 14, June 18, July 16, Aug. 20, Sept. 17, Oct. 15, Nov. 19, and Dec. 17.
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GCPS’ FY2021 budget calendar kicks off in spring
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
The FY2021 Budget Calendar was revised and adopted.
The first public session is set for March 21 and adoption of a final budget is expected on June 18.
Last fall, the Board of Education adopted the FY2021 Budget Calendar, reserving certain critical dates relating to the budget process. The adopted calendar was revised to reflect a later timeline and those changes were accepted by the Board at the January meeting. In coming weeks, departments and divisions will develop budget requests to submit to CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. The superintendent’s recommended budget will be shared later this spring, followed by a series of work sessions and hearings. The state requires a new budget be adopted each year prior to July 1.

Following are key dates in the budget process for FY2021:
March 21– Budget work session (Saturday)

April 16– Budget work session and adoption of tentative budget

May 14– First public hearing on budget

June 18– Second public budget hearing, final budget adoption, and adoption of tentative millage rate

July 2020 (date TBD)– Final adoption of millage rate

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Reminder… transfer request process closes Jan. 24 at 5 p.m.
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
The Placement Preference Process for the 2020–21 school year closes today at 5 p.m.
Through this process, teachers, assistant principals, counselors, media specialist, and LSTCs may request a transfer to a different location for the next school year.
The Placement Preference Process for the 2020–21 school year closes today. The deadline for submitting a transfer request is Friday, Jan. 24, at 5 p.m. Through this process, certified teachers and assistant principals may request a transfer to a different location for the next school year. For the purpose of this process, counselors, media specialists, and LSTCs are considered teachers.

The HR Placement Preference link in the Employee Portal was activated on Jan. 17. Transfer requests are for lateral moves only in terms of position and hours worked— for example for those requesting a transfer from one teaching position to another teaching position, from a counseling position to a counseling position, or from one assistant principal position to an AP post at another school.

To be eligible for participation, teachers and assistant principals must have completed their third consecutive, complete, contractual year in their current school and current position. A certified teacher or assistant principal who transferred to the current location involuntarily also is eligible for participation. Staff members who are “part year,” on a Professional Development Plan, or retirees are not eligible to participate in the Placement Preference Process.

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Board authorizes GCPS’ participation in tax allocation district
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
The Board authorized the district's participation in the Exchange@Gwinnett tax allocation district (TAD).
This TAD will generate E-SPLOST revenue almost immediately and the financial impact to the district upon completion will be an estimated $1.6 million in E-SPLOST annually and $4.3 million in property tax annually.
At last month’s Board meeting, the Gwinnett County Board of Education authorized the school district’s participation in the Exchange@Gwinnett tax allocation district (TAD), which was approved by the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners on Dec. 10. The redevelopment site contains 103 acres near the Mall of Georgia and is expected to be a $350 million mixed-use development housing a hotel, apartments, dining, retail, and entertainment. The TAD designation freezes the property tax value within the redevelopment area and the amount of tax revenue that flows to GCPS. During the duration of the TAD, any new property tax revenue generated on the increased property value that results from the redevelopment will go to a separate fund to help offset infrastructure improvements.

This TAD will generate E-SPLOST revenue almost immediately and the financial impact to the district upon completion will be an estimated $1.6 million in E-SPLOST annually and $4.3 million in property tax annually.
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Community-Based Mentoring Program:
Harnessing the ‘Power of One’ to support our students

Need-to-know highlights of this story:
GCPS' Community-Based Mentoring Program is one program with three priorities-- African-American boys, African-American girls, and Hispanic boys and girls.
Nearly 500 men and women who mentor more than 1,100 students from 67 of our schools.
The district is seeking both men and women to serve as mentors.
During National Mentoring Month in January, we thank the nearly 500 men and women who mentor more than 1,100 students from 67 of our schools! In Gwinnett County Public Schools, we believe in the Power of One… one caring adult can change a child’s life. While school counselors, teachers, and family members all play a role in keeping students in school and learning, the involvement of a mentor can make a meaningful difference. Studies show mentors can play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools they need to make responsible choices, attend and engage in school, and reduce or avoid risky behaviors.

GCPS’ Community-Based Mentoring Program pairs caring adults with young people who can benefit from additional support and guidance to ensure they are on track for success in school and life. It’s one program with three priorities. The district launched the program in 2009 to provide community-based mentoring services to identified African-American boys in middle school. Over time, the program has grown to include on-site mentoring services at local schools as well as mentoring services for African-American girls, and most recently, Hispanic boys and girls.

The district is seeking both men and women to serve as mentors. In fact, many GCPS staff members have stepped up to fill this important role for a student. Prospective mentors can learn more about how to become a mentor and find an application online. To become a mentor in the program, you must be 21 or older, able to commit to a minimum of one year as a mentor, and complete a background check and an application. Mentors and their mentees make weekly contact and participate together in one-on-one sessions, group activities, and special events.

If you’re ready to learn more about how you can be the one adult who makes a difference for one of our students, consider attending an upcoming training session for prospective mentors. Upcoming sessions are planned for Thursday, Jan. 30, at 6:30 p.m., and Thursday, March 26, at 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. The sessions will be held at the Community-Based Mentoring Program offices at the Buice Center, located at 1225 Northbrook Parkway in Suwanee.

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Board approves leaders in new roles
The following leadership appointments and a transfer were announced in January:

New Position
Current/Previous Position
Cynthia “Cindy” Kinchen
Principal, Duluth MS
Assistant Principal,
McClure Health Science HS
Chekquita M. Johnson
Principal, Sweetwater MS
Principal, Radloff MS
Dr. Nick M. Boyers
Principal, Sugar Hill ES
Assistant Principal,
Mason ES
Principal Deborah Fusi’s retirement opens the leadership position at Duluth for Ms. Kinchen. Dr. Boyers steps into his new post at Sugar Hill as Dr. Taffeta Connery fills the open principal position at Simpson ES. Ms. Johnson transfers to the principalship at Sweetwater as Principal Jay Nebel moves to fill a role at the district level.
Cindy Kinchen
Chekquita Johnson
Dr. Nick Boyers

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GCPS staff invited to review, provide feedback on proposed resources
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Staff members are invited to a vendor marketplace to review proposed resources for selected language arts, social studies, CTE, and foreign language courses.
The event will take place on Feb. 24-25, 4-7 p.m., at the ISC.
The Office of Instructional Resources and Support, with support from curriculum directors, will host a vendor marketplace and open review of instructional resources on Feb. 24-25 at the J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center (ISC) in Building 200. Teachers and other staff members are invited to drop in between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. to review and provide feedback on proposed instructional resources for select courses in the content areas of language arts, social studies, career and technical education, and foreign language.

The following courses and grade levels will have resources available for review:
Language Arts— Grades 3-5 and 9-12

Social Studies— Grades K-2, 6-8, and a number of high school courses, including AP Government and Politics: Comparative, AP U.S. History, AP World History, Contemporary Issues, Controversial Issues, Law, Personal Financial Literacy, Philosophy, Psychology, and Sociology

Career and Technical Education— Select middle and high school CTE courses, including offerings in business, engineering, logistics, and marketing

Foreign Language— Grade 6 Dual Language Immersion courses and Spanish for Native Speakers Level 3

The ISC is located at 437 Old Peachtree Road, NW, in Suwanee. If you have any questions, please contact Anna Huston in the Office of Instructional Resources and Support at 678-301-6828 or email instructional.resources@gcpsk12.org.
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During Tax Time, beware of tax-related scams
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
— During tax Time, scammers may use emails, texts, or social media to gain access to personal or financial information.
Be alert for suspicious requests and do not click on links or download information.
If you receive a suspicious email on your GCPS email, forward it to the Phishing Spam mailbox. Remember to delete the suspect email from your in box, sent folder, and trash folder.

Tax Day— April 15— is just around the corner. During tax-preparation season, the number of tax-related scams is on the rise. Criminals may pose as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or a tax accounting service, such as TurboTax or H&R Block, in order to gain access to personal information and steal your tax refund.

What should you look out for?
Be on the alert for anyone asking you for personal or financial information via emails, phone calls, letters, social media accounts, and even text messages. The IRS will not initiate contact with you via email, text message, or social media. They will not threaten or demand immediate payment. Beware of websites claiming to be the IRS or other tax-related sites. Don’t click on links or download information contained in a suspicious email or post. When providing your personal information on a website, look for the lock icon beside the URL as this symbol indicates that the website owner has secured the site and your information can be safely sent.

What should you do if you receive a suspicious email requesting personal or financial data?
Do not reply or click on any links. Don’t download attachments as they might contain malware that could infect your computer or smartphone. Forward any suspicious emails sent to your GCPS email inbox to phishing.spam@gcpsk12.org— the “Phishing Spam” mailbox— and then delete the email from your in box, sent, and trash folders. Whether received through your personal email or your GCPS email, suspicious IRS-related email should be forwarded to phishing@irs.gov. Learn more about IRS scams on the IRS website.
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2020–21 registration deadlines approach for programs, school
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
— GCPS' special schools and programs have scheduled registration for 2020-21.
— Registration for Grayson HS Technical Education Program, Maxwell HS of Technology, and New Life Academy of Excellence is underway. Watch for upcoming deadlines.
Gwinnett Online Campus will register students in February.
Registration continues for students interested in attending one of GCPS’ special schools and programs during the 2020–21 school year.

— GCPS high school students interested in exploring careers through hands-on learning can check out two specialized career and technical education programs at upcoming events. Online registration for the Grayson HS Technical Education Program is open, with the Winter Open House set for Thursday, Feb. 6, from 5 to 7 p.m. Find program information for Grayson online. An Open House for Maxwell HS of Technology is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 20, between 5 and 7 p.m. at the school. Online registration is available. Learn more about Maxwell programs online. Eligible students may register for either program from their Student Portal account from anywhere they have internet access.

Open enrollment for New Life Academy of Excellence is open through Feb. 7. If needed, a registration lottery will be held on Monday, Feb. 17.

Gwinnett Online Campus (GOC) registration for full-time students in grades 4–12 begins Feb. 3. Open house events and campus tours will be available to families on several dates in January and February, with an informational meeting set for Feb. 26. GOC does not offer mid-year enrollment.

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IRS recommends ‘paycheck checkup’ on tax withholding
Due to federal tax law changes that took place in 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a revised 2020 Form W-4 Employee’s Withholding Certificate, effective January 2020. Even though the IRS does not require all employees to complete the revised form, and even if your tax situation has not changed, the IRS recommends that you perform a “paycheck checkup” to see if you need to make adjustments to your current withholding. To conduct the checkup, use the IRS online Tax Withholding Estimator. To effectively use the estimator, you’ll want to have a copy of your most recent pay stub and tax return handy.
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Submit eligible expenses for FSA reimbursement by March 31
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
March 31 is the deadline to file a claim for reimbursable FSA expenses incurred during the 2019 calendar year.
Claim forms for FSA, Dental, and Vision plans can be found in the online Employee Benefits Center.
If you incurred expenses during the 2019 calendar year that are reimbursable through your Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (HCFSA) or Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA), or had expenses covered by GCPS’ dental or vision plans during the plan year, the deadline to file a claim is drawing near. You have until March 31 to file claims for your 2019 eligible expenses. Claim forms for FSA, Dental, and Vision plans can be found in the online Employee Benefits Center. You also may contact the Benefits team via email at benefits@gcpsk12.org.
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Update on 2019 Health Care Tax Statement 1095-C
The IRS has extended the distribution date for 1095-C forms to March 2. GCPS anticipates mailing 1095-C forms to employees in late February. While the information on these forms may assist in preparing a return, Form 1095-C is not required when filing your return. For more information about the extension and this form, please visit the Internal Revenue Service website at www.irs.gov.
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Share career fair opportunities with potential GCPS teachers
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
A STEM Fair and Screening event is set for Feb. 8 for those with a degree or work experience in a STEM field.
GCPS' Certified Teacher Career Fair is set for Saturday, March 21, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Infinite Energy Center.
The fair is by invitation only for those who are certified (or will be by July of 2020) in a range of fields.
GCPS takes pride in recruiting, employing, developing, and retaining a stellar teaching corps. With continued growth and the pending retirement of veteran teachers, the district will have 2020–21 openings across grade levels and subjects for prospective teachers who have what it takes to shape the next generation of leaders, achievers, and influencers. If you have friends and family who are certified to teach (or will be certified by the summer), let them know about these upcoming opportunities to join the Gwinnett teaching corps!

GCPS STEM Fair and Screening Event— Feb. 8
GCPS is holding a
screening event and career fair for prospective STEM teachers on Feb. 8. The event is open to those who are certified to teach Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics for middle grades (4–8) or high school (9–12) as well as those with an interest in teaching who hold a degree or have work experience in a STEM field. Those interested in an interview at the event should complete an online application. The district will be offering contracts for the 2020–21 school year to selected candidates. Candidates can learn more about the district’s alternative teacher preparation program for career-changers and candidates who currently are not certified. They can learn more about teaching in Gwinnett online.

GCPS Certified Teacher Career Fair— March 21
Looking ahead… Gwinnett County Public Schools will host a Certified Teacher Career Fair on Saturday, March 21, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth. The fair is by invitation only for those who are certified (or will be by July of 2020) in high-need fields. Contracts will be extended to selected candidates at this event. Watch for additional details in the coming weeks.

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Schedule appointment if you plan 2020 retirement
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
The Gwinnett Retirement Services Department is scheduling retirement counseling appointments for sessions through March for employees planning to retire at the end of this school year.
Appointments with retirement counselors are available Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
If retirement is on the horizon for you, it’s time to schedule an appointment with a retirement counselor. The Gwinnett Retirement Services Department is scheduling retirement counseling appointments through March for those employees planning to retire at the end of this school year. In order to complete retirement applications and ensure prompt first payments from the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia or Public School Employees Retirement System, please contact Retirement Services at (678) 301-6267 or (678) 301-6267 6269. Appointments with retirement counselors— located in either Suwanee or Lawrenceville— are available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m.

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Deadlines approach for scholarships for staff
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
The deadline to apply for the $1,500 GCREA scholarship is March 3.
Apply for a $2,000 Career ADvancement Scholarship from Peach State Federal Credit Union by Feb. 14.
Gwinnett County Retired Educators Association (GCREA) Scholarship
The association serving the district’s retired teachers will award $1,500 GCREA scholarships to GCPS educators currently accepted into an accredited graduate program. Academic ability and financial need will be reviewed, but the overriding criteria will be the applicant’s sincere intention to remain in the field of education. Find an application online. Mail three copies of your completed application to Scholarship Chair Gloria James, 945 Bramlett Shoals Rd., Lawrenceville, GA, 30045. Applications must be postmarked by March 3. Recipients will be notified by April 6 and will be invited to attend the GCREA meeting on April 17 for the presentation of the scholarship. For additional information, contact Ms. James at 404-556-5892 or send an email to overbrook@mindspring.com.

Peach State Federal Credit Union (PSFCU) Scholarships
GCPS staffers may apply for one of 25 Career Advancement Scholarships offered by Peach State Federal Credit Union in recognition of education as a lifelong experience. Applicants must be current employees, Credit Union members in good standing with an active account that has been open for a minimum of one year, and enrolled in an accredited program at a college, university, or technical institute with the goal of career advancement. Find an application on the PSFCU website or at any branch. Apply for one of the $2,000 scholarships by Feb. 14. Send applications to Peach State Federal Credit Union, Attention: Scholarship Committee, 1505 Lakes Parkway, Suite 100, Lawrenceville, GA 30043. Recipients will be named in March.
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Do your part to fight colds and flu this winter
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Georgia is experiencing an active flu season this winter.
Families need to know the symptoms of the flu, and take everyday precautions to prevent the spread of germs.
Georgia is experiencing an active flu season this winter. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Public Health encourage families to know the symptoms of the flu, which include fever (though not everyone with flu has a fever), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, tiredness, and, sometimes, diarrhea and vomiting. In addition to getting a seasonal flu vaccine, remember to take everyday precautions to prevent the spread of germs, including:
— Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or the crook of your elbow when you sneeze.

— Wash your hands often with soap and water.

— Avoid close contact with sick people.

— Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

— Stay home if ill with flu-like symptoms for at least 24 hours after no longer having fever.

— Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are touched often.

If you have questions about the flu or flu prevention, you also may contact the Gwinnett County Health Department at 770-339-4260.

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Take Quarry Crusher challenge to support schools
Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Quarry Crusher Run Atlanta is set for Feb. 22.
Proceeds from the event benefit schools in the Meadowcreek Cluster.
GCPS employees and students can get a discount on the registration fee.
Runners (and walkers), do you think you have what it takes to descend more than 600 feet to the bottom of a rock quarry before you begin your climb out? If you think you can “dig deep” and challenge yourself to complete this feat, Quarry Crusher Run Atlanta, sponsored by the Vulcan Materials Company, is the race for you! The 3.7-mile route descends to the bottom of Vulcan’s Norcross quarry and offers unbelievable views of the quarry with every step. The best part? The Feb. 22 race benefits our students! Vulcan will donate proceeds to the GCPS Foundation to support Meadowcreek HS, McClure Health Science HS, Radloff MS, Meadowcreek ES, and Boys and Girls Clubs of Gwinnett County. Registration for the Quarry Crusher— from the top to the bottom of the quarry and back— costs $40. Get a $10 discount using one of these promo codes— STUDENT, TEACHER, or GCPSSTAFF. (Make sure to use all caps.) Active and retired military personnel, and first responders also can get a discount. The race is open to runners and walkers, ages 12 and older.

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Need-to-know highlights of this story:
Check out Bulletin Board items with the latest on… volunteer needs for the Science, Engineering +Innovation Fair, a new social media option, JA volunteers, recent online Communiqué stories, the next Spotlight, the latest from GCPS TV, Perks, and commute alternatives
See how you can support the 2020 Science, Engineering + Innovation Fair!… Envisioning the Future… That’s the theme of the upcoming 2020 Gwinnett Science, Engineering + Innovation Fair, encouraging students, judges, and partners of the event to look forward to creative and innovative STEM application in our world. And you can be a part of it! District leaders are looking for sponsors and judges for the Feb. 21 event, which also will include breakout sessions and highlight career opportunities in STEM. Need more information? Contact the event’s planning team online.
Pin it!… Now you can find GCPS on Pinterest! Follow us at www.pinterest.com/Gwinnett_Schools for tips and resources on various education topics.

Our first “boards” feature resources related to early learning and school readiness for children ages birth to 5 and content on digital citizenship. Return often as we build those boards and add others to support GCPS families.
Volunteer for JA Discovery Center… Junior Achievement (JA) Discovery Center at Gwinnett hosts day-long simulations that allow our students to explore the work world and personal finance. Annually, more than 50,000 GCPS middle schoolers take part in day-long simulations as part of the JA BizTown and JA Finance Park programs to learn how to navigate the workplace and manage money. The center is located on the campus of Discovery HS in Lawrenceville. JA is looking for volunteers to help create a more authentic simulation for our students. No matter your profession or background, your life experiences qualifies you to be a successful volunteer! Volunteers receive training during their shift, which typically runs 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Share this opportunity with friends and family or consider volunteering yourself. Email VolunteerGwinnett@georgia.ja.org to see how your “adulting” experience could support this important program for our students.
Something to celebrate?… Share your good news with your colleagues in Spotlight. If you have earned a state or national award, earned a degree, made a presentation, or had work published, send an email to the Spotlight mailbox, or send the information to the Communication and Media Relations Department through the courier.
What’s new in Communiqué?… The latest posts to the online Communiqué  include staff honors, a specialized instructional space, plus dates and deadlines on the Bulletin Board and the latest episode of In5ive. Coming up? Photos from Principal for a Day, holiday happenings, and more! Check the magazine frequently for the latest news! Story ideas? Great photos? Feedback? Let us know at communique@gcpsk12.org. 
Stretch your holiday budget with employee discounts… Put ‘GCPS Perks’ at your fingertips with the Foundation’s mobile app. GCPS employees have easy access to employee perks and discounts via their smartphone! Perks include special offers and discounts from local and national businesses. With the app, users also can make a donation, purchase event tickets, catch up on Foundation news, and contact the Foundation team. Download the app today for your iOS or Android device.
Check out Georgia Commute Options… Sign up for Georgia Commute Options programs, find carpool partners, and log your commute trips to earn cash and win prizes online. On the Commute Options website, you can:
Find out how much you’re spending on your commute by using Georgia Commute Options Commute Calculator.
— Manage everything, from ride-matching to incentives;
— Use easy “drag and drop” features to log your commute;
— Set text or e-mail log reminders for any day of the week and any time;
— Set alerts via text or e-mail when new carpool or vanpool matches become available;
— Check current enrollment status in any of the Georgia Commute Options incentive programs;
— Find Park and Ride locations and transit routes in the Atlanta region; and
— View or share public pages through Facebook or Twitter log-in.

A mobile-friendly version of the system is available so users can log commute trips on the go. Go to the website to learn how to improve the way you get to and from work. If you have any questions, call 1-877-9-GA-OPTIONS.

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    Last modified on 03/02/2020