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Forsyth County Schools fastest-growing in metro area

It was never a surprise that Forsyth County Schools would increase enrollment numbers this year, but now it is clearer who those new students are and where they are going to school.

With a projected full-time student enrollment of 47,500 by October, Forsyth County Schools increased 1,816 students from last year’s Aug. 12, 2016 numbers, according to Kathy Carpenter, director of information systems for the district.

“Last year, we were the sixth-highest percentage of growth,” she said.

The district’s 4.28 percent increase in students was based on enrollment numbers in March of 2016 and 2017.

“And those districts ahead of us are a lot smaller than us,” Carpenter said. “Even when you compare us to the large metro districts, we’re well ahead of them in terms of growth.”

Forsyth County is, for the third year in a row, the seventh-largest school system in Georgia. The district has been steadily increasing in size since 1995, when it was the 30th-largest.

Based on March 2017 numbers, of the six districts with more students — Gwinnett County, Cobb County, DeKalb County, Fulton County, Clayton County and Atlanta Public Schools — only Gwinnett even broke the 1 percent mark for increase in growth (1.09 percent).

Percent growth only tells part of the picture. It only shows the net growth, not how many new students came to Forsyth County this year.

Schools welcomed a total of 5,544 new enrollees in August, 0.4 percent who came from home schools, 53 percent who have never attended school before (usually kindergarteners), 15 percent who came from another state or country, 8 percent who transferred from a private school and 23.6 percent who moved to Forsyth County from another district in Georgia.

Carpenter said those numbers are basically the same as last year.

Of the new enrollees, Brandywine Elementary School has the largest percent of them in comparison to their total student population (5.4 percent), followed by Sawnee, Shiloh Point and Silver City elementary schools (4.8 percent).

Those numbers did not significantly change from last year, either, which was the first year Brandywine was open.

The same goes for middle and high schools.

Riverwatch Middle School has 1.5 percent of its students in classes for the first time, marking the most of any middle school but followed closely by Piney Grove, Otwell, North Forsyth and Lakeside (1.4 percent).

In high schools, South Forsyth High has 2.6 percent of its students as new enrollees. North Forsyth and West Forsyth each have 2.2 percent.

Gateway and Forsyth Academy, both alternative schools within the district, both saw an increase in students enrolled for their programs.

“But that’s expected,” Board of Education Chairwoman Kristin Morrissey said, “that they’re likely all to grow with the total growth.”