At the March meeting of the Forsyth County Board of Education held Tuesday, March 19, members and system staff covered an agenda packed with recognitions, presentations and motions that were ready for approval.
All votes were unanimous unless otherwise noted.
Elementary school security upgrades to commence in May
On Tuesday, the board approved a plan to increase safety measures at 18 county elementary schools by modifying the existing entrance vestibules of the schools to have double entryways.
According to Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Jeff Bearden, this plan is part of the school bond referendum which was approved by voters in May 2018 and was established as a result of the school safety audit that was conducted by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and the school system.
Chief Facilities Officer Bill McKnight told the board that Multiplex LLC, a construction company out of Duluth, had been awarded the contract for the project for their bid of $1,383,000.
Modifications will be completed on Big Creek, Brookwood, Chattahoochee, Chestatee, Coal Mountain, Cumming, Daves Creek, Johns Creek, Mashburn, Matt, Midway, Sawnee, Settles Bridge, Sharon, Shiloh Point, Silver City, Vickery Creek and Whitlow elementary schools.
The project is expected to be completed by Jan. 3, 2020, at which point all of the county’s elementary schools will have a double entry way that allows staff to observe visitors before they can enter the school, according to Forsyth County Schools Director of Communications Jennifer Caracciolo.
The double entryway will be standard for all future elementary schools, Caracciolo said, including Poole’s Mill Elementary School, which is set to open in 2020.
Calendar amendments approved
Over the last year, the topic of school calendars has permeated education discussions, due to a controversial state committee that conducted an evaluation of public school calendars in 2018 and recommended starting the school year later.
Locally, the Forsyth County Schools system and Board of Education have come out in strong opposition of any measure that would limit local district control, and in November 2018, the board approved two years’ worth of calendars designed from the recommendations of parents, students, system staff and local school councils.
On Tuesday, the board approved an amendment to those calendars, adding a professional learning day for both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years and shortening each school year by one day.
At the March work session held last week, Associate Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Fonda Harrison told the board that the changes would help employees complete professional learning for the various initiatives and programs the system provides.
Updated calendars show that last day of the first semester in the 2019-20 school year has been moved from Dec. 20 to Dec. 19, 2019, while the first day of school for the 2020-21 school year has been shifted from Aug. 5 to Aug. 6, 2020.
Harrison said that even with a reduction in the total number of student days from 179 to 178, the system is still well above the minimum state standards.
System renovation projects approved
McKnight also presented the board with several other renovation and modification projects which will add new features, increase capacity and bring certain spaces up to code at county high schools and system buildings.
These projects are part of the 2018 school bond referendum, McKnight said, and include:
· West Forsyth High School is set to be upgraded with a new school wing that officials say will add classrooms and bring the school up to max capacity, similar to projects that have been completed at Lambert, North Forsyth and South Forsyth high schools. This project will cost $4,548,000.
· South Forsyth will be upgraded with a new concession building and restrooms. Work is expected to begin on April 1 and end on Aug. 5, and the project will cost $1,422,917.
· Renovations will update the seating, lighting, stage rigging, curtains and sound systems at performing arts centers at Forsyth Central, North Forsyth and South Forsyth high schools. This project will cost $2,894,653 and is set to begin on March 23, finishing by Sept. 14.
According to McKnight’s presentation, CBI General Contractors has been selected as the contractor for the restroom and concession modifications at South Forsyth High School, HCR Construction has been selected as the contractor for the renovations to high school performing arts centers and Cooper & Company General Contractors has been selected for the addition and modification project at West Forsyth.