Despite the weather, the Forsyth County Board of Education held its annual retreat Thursday and Friday.
With state budget shortfalls and limited local funding, board members explored how to work with less while creating better results.
Among the topics: redistricting; new officers; career-ready education; and March’s 1-cent sales tax referendum.
“I think it was really good to put into perspective the issues like the budget, curriculum changes that are taking place, SPLOST and redistricting,” said Ann Crow, the chairwoman who was recently elected to a third term on the board.
The retreat, held at Lake Lanier Islands, was the first opportunity for Kristin Morrissey to meet with the entire board at one time.
"It was really helpful to review current topics for the year and ask any questions that I had,” said Morrissey, who was elected last fall. “I went away with as many questions as I went in with, if not more, so I do need to follow up with staff and board members.”
One topic that interested Crow was career-based high school academic programs.
“We’re putting [emphasis] on careers in high school and how that will work out with students, and all the additional courses they’ll have access to,” she said. “We’re also going to start a partnership with Lanier [Technical College].”
Money was a major focus of the retreat, often crossing into different topics, such as priorities based on available funding.
Crow said the system is bracing for budget cuts, but she hopes the state will maintain a 180-day school year because “we don’t believe [shortening is] in the best interest of the students.”
Among the greatest funding threats is not having enough for books and other supplies.
“We’re at a critical point at this juncture right now," Crow said. "We’ve cut down to the bare bones and it’s going to start affecting the quality of education.”
Another topic, which will grow as the community gets involved, was redistricting for the 2012-13 school year.
Morrissey said the issue is so difficult because it’s “close to everyone’s heart."
“We ... have to take into consideration what’s been done in the past -- what worked and what could be done better,” she said.
“In the end, we need to do what’s best for the students.”