The Forsyth County school system’s new Performing Arts Center will soon have a name with help from the community, according to school officials.
At a work session of the Forsyth County Board of Education held Tuesday, system staff announced that an online poll went live on its website this week to solicit ideas from the community.
The Performing Arts Center, an 1,800-seat theater with multiple performing spaces, concessions, dressing rooms and storage, has been proposed to be built behind the Forsyth County Board of Education building on Dahlonega Highway, along with the three-story “Academy for Creative Education.”
But unlike other schools and school buildings that were named with help from the community — most recently Hendricks Middle School in west Forsyth that was overwhelmingly voted for by the public out of a list of choices — this time the system will be taking a back seat and allowing the public to choose.
“We're going to open it up [Aug. 15] and anyone can provide a recommendation for the name of the [Performing Arts Center],” Director of Communications Jennifer Caracciolo told the board. "Then what we'll do is … review all of that feedback, which I'm sure we will have thousands of comments from the community because they are very involved.”
Caracciolo said that residents can go onto the school system’s website to find a link for the poll, and then recommend the name of a “distinguished/deceased” person or area of the county with historical significance to the school system.
The school system is asking each person to include information on that person or place’s contribution to the school system, record of distinction in their respective field, positive role modeling and commitment to excellence, or historical and geographic significance.
“We will review all of the online recommendations and select one to bring back to the board in September at your work session,” Caracciolo said at the meeting. “We will ask for approval at the regular board meeting in September."
Participate in the poll by visiting the school system online at their website.
Procedure for redistricting announced
With the opening of Poole’s Mill Elementary just a year away, the Forsyth County school system is readying itself for the upcoming redistricting process to populate the new elementary school.
Forsyth County Superintendent Jeff Bearden took several minutes to update the board on the redistricting timeline during the work session, filling them in on what the process will entail.
"That school will open next fall, so now the staff is beginning the process of recommending what the new attendance lines will be for Poole’s Mill," Bearden said. “I just want to remind the board and our community, our two primary objectives any time we go through new school attendance lines are … to relieve overcrowding at any existing schools where possible and to functionally populate any new school."
While the answer to which school attendance lines will be altered in the process is not yet known, Bearden said that school staff would be looking at a number of different criteria when making their decision.
“We look at school feeder alignment, we look at the placement of special instructional programs, we look at traffic patterns as they affect travel time and safety, we look at accessibility of students and families by various methods and as well as proximity,” he said. “Those are in no particular order, but those are all things that staff will look at."
Bearden said that Deputy Superintendent of Schools Joey Pirkle will come before the board in September with a timeline for the process.
Testing schedules presented to board
Board members were also presented with a new End of Course (EOC) testing schedule that will be used by the school system in the upcoming spring semester.
According to Lee Ann Rice, school system director of assessment and accountability, the new testing schedule, which will align EOC testing for high school students and some End of Grade (EOG) assessments for middle school students, will cut down on confusion and give students, parents and schools more flexibility during the testing period.
"We started working on this last spring," Rice said in her presentation. "What has occurred in the past is that the high schools have had full autonomy to give their test within a large period of time, and we've had concerns from parents, students and teachers basically about communication, not knowing when the testing days were."
Under the new schedule, Rice said that EOC testing across the county would happen over five days, spread over two weeks at the end of April to the beginning of May.
The schedule highlights include:
April 27 – EOC & EOG Science
April 29 – EOC & EOG Math
May – EOC Social Studies
May 4 – EOC English Language Arts 1
May 6 – EOC English Language Arts 2&3
Rice said that each testing day would be punctuated by a testing make up day, which will allow schools that operate on an AB schedule, like Alliance Academy for Innovation, to fully test all of their students.
“Alliance Academy uses an AB schedule, they don't have as many staff members to be able to test their entire group,” she said. “So they will follow an AB schedule where part of their students will test science on [April 27], the other part will test on [April 28]."
This new schedule will also allow students who aren’t testing on a particular morning to have an excused late arrival to school, Rice said, giving students more flexibility to study at home or sleep in.
"In order to do this we will be utilizing the majority of the staff at a high school to conduct the EOC testing,” she said. “We'll provide some other opportunities for the other students who do come to school that don’t have an EOC test, but this allows us to shrink down the amount of time on testing.”
More information and the full elementary, middle and high school testing calendars can be found by visiting www.forsyth.k12.ga.us/page/189.