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District enters busy stretch
Summer school, facility work await
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Forsyth County News
The graduations may be finished, but school’s not over for everyone in the Forsyth County school system.

Some 400 students will be attending summer school, about 3,500 computers will be installed and there will be a few renovations made during the next nine weeks.
Summer happenings
About 200 students will take part in the county’s math academy, which helps with remediation and recovery, at Forsyth Central High School.

Another 200 students will be attending one of four sessions of summer school at the Academy at Night.

Chestatee, Cumming and Midway elementary schools will be offering Kindercamp for the first time. The three schools were selected because of their Title 1, or low-income, status.

“It’s a weeklong camp for students who have not attended preschool to come and become acclimated to the school,” said Associate Superintendent Lissa Pijanowski.

“It’s also a time for us to engage parents and families and for them to learn about resources that are available to them.”

Pijanowski said the system is also offering a language academy for the first time.

The program is open to all high school students, but targets those whose native language is not English.

The classes, held at Central, will be geared toward science.

“It’s going to be a busy summer,” Pijanowski said. “When you start thinking about all the things we have and all the new programs we have, and getting ready for iAchieve [virtual academy] to open, there’s a lot of great stuff going on.”
Technology corner
During Thursday’s school board meeting, it was decided the system will purchase about 3,500 new computers.

About 1,800 are desktop computers for use in career technology classes. The remaining 1,700 will be notebooks for full-time teachers.

Bailey Mitchell, the district’s chief technology and information officer, said the system’s existing computers are more than four years old and “becoming increasingly expensive to maintain.”

“We’ve tweaked it to the max to try to make it work,” he said.

To cut back on costs, Mitchell said the system will keep the current monitors and just replace the towers.

Both the notebooks and desktops will be part of a three-year lease through Hewlett Packard.

The system’s $683,437 annual payments will be nearly $245,000 less than the previous lease. And with the deal, the system’s annual repair and maintenance budget will drop by about $140,000, Mitchell said.

“It will be exciting for teachers to get a new notebook” when they come back after summer, he said.
Construction junction
Summertime is always busy for Robert Sewell and his crew.

But following a year where five schools opened, the chief facilities and operations officer said this summer likely will be slower.

Two years ago, the system did what is called a “life cycle,” where interior and exterior repairs were made at every school.

“We did almost $29 million worth of life cycle work,” Sewell said. “We were blessed with that life cycle ... that really brought all of our schools into excellent condition, because everything that’s beyond its life cycle was addressed.”

All that remains to be repaired systemwide are parking lots, Sewell said. But with a tight budget, only potholes will be fixed through standard maintenance procedures.

While no new schools are opening next year and no major upgrades are planned, the Hill Educational Center on Elm Street and South Forsyth High School will be getting new additions.

“We’re renovating the wing over there to move the Gateway Academy,” Sewell said of the Hill Center. “The front classroom wing, that’s being renovated. And there are minor modifications to the kitchen so they can serve food there, and there will be additional parking.”

South is getting a dozen new science labs. Sewell said completion is slated for July 31.

“We’ll have about 60 days to finish the job,” he said. “Everybody’s cooperating, the contractor’s on schedule, all the submittals have been approved, and we feel like we’ll be able to open on schedule.

“The teachers stayed in last week and cleaned up their old equipment out of those science labs so the contractor was out there [Thursday] in full force.”