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School system closing in on facilities plan

Met with approval from review panel

POSTED: April 10, 2014 2:10 p.m.
 

CUMMING — The Forsyth County school system’s proposed six-year-facilities plan cleared a major hurdle Wednesday, receiving approval from a four-member review team of visiting officials.

“From our standpoint, you’ve got a great plan,” said Stephens County Schools Assistant Superintendent Jason Kaup. “You’ve got a solid plan and I think that really does reflect the quality of the staff that you have working on that.”

In addition to three other survey team members, Kaup toured some of Forsyth’s schools and reviewed the plan, which outlines the next five years of school construction, renovations, additions and other projects to meet growth demands.

The state requires each school system to go through a facilities plan and review every five years. However, Forsyth opted to write a new facilities plan a year early due to its exceptionally high growth rate.

If the system were to wait the full five years, officials have said, the future entitlement earnings from the state would be lower because the information would be based on outdated numbers.

The Forsyth County Board of Education Is expected to approve the facilities plan at a meeting tonight.

After that, staff will review the timeline for the May 20 referendum on a bond program that could help fund construction efforts. The members will identify which of the 11 proposed projects should be priorities for this fiscal year and those that can wait until next year.

The recommendations of the review team — which was made up of planning, maintenance, facilities and other school officials from various districts in the state — included supporting Forsyth’s student population trends, curriculum, facility needs and priorities.

“We commend the Forsyth County system for their well-maintained, clean and welcoming schools,” Kaup said. “Every one of us gained something to take back to our own school district, either in conversation or observation when we had a chance to tour the facilities.”

Tim Amerson, Forsyth’s facilities planner, was pleased with the feedback. The tour of local schools, he said, gave the survey team “an idea of what our facilities look like and the level of quality.”

According to Amerson, the visit included a stop at Forsyth Central High to showcase the STEM Academy, which allows students to focus on a science, technology, engineering and math career pathway.

“So much of what we have worked through on the bond [referendum] and on the plan is to not only create more high school classrooms ... but also the alignment of all career tech programs, which we’re going to address a lot in all the high schools,” Amerson said.

“We have a lot of modifications to high schools that we put into the plan to make sure we had the programs and facilities in place.”

Forsyth Superintendent Buster Evans complimented his staff on “doing a phenomenal job in what they do.”

“It has made this district a lot better,” he said. “It’s made the life and work of the board of education, I think, better and it’s made my life as superintendent that much better.”

 

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