Even though Forsyth County is consistently ranked as one of the most affluent counties in the state, there are still families and students who struggle with food and financial security. But that does not mean those kids have to sacrifice educational achievement.
Forsyth County Schools was named as the 2016-17 Title-I Reward District for large school systems by the Georgia Department of Education, a designation that recognizes districts with the highest performance over three years on statewide assessments by awarding them a $25,000 federal grant.
Large districts were considered to be those with 10,000 or more students.
“Forsyth County Schools has been recognized as a Title-I Reward District for four out of the last five years,” said Fonda Harrison, associate superintendent of teaching and learning, the department that oversees the Title-I program.
Title-I is a federal program that provides funds to schools with “high numbers or percentages of poor children to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic content and student academic achievement standards,” which is measured by having 35 percent or more of its student body on free and reduced lunch plans.
Schools in Forsyth County eligible for Title-I funding are Chestatee Elementary, Cumming Elementary, Little Mill Middle and Otwell Middle.
In addition to the district being recognized for its achievement across all four of those schools, Chestatee and Midway Elementary were named Highest-Performing Schools, placing them among the top 5 percent of the state’s Title-I schools with the “absolute highest performance over three years.”
Midway was a Title-I school last year but no longer is due to redistricting for Brandywine Elementary, which opened this school year.
Harrison said Midway is now at 27 percent free and reduced lunch, and Brandywine is at 32 percent.
Cumming, Otwell and Little Mill have all been named Highest-Performing Schools more than once since 2012.
Harrison said while teacher, student and administrative involvement is key, one group of the community is vital in these schools.
“All of our Title-I schools worked hard to increase parental engagement, which we feel made a tremendous impact on the achievement of our students,” she said.
State School Superintendent Richard Woods said Title-I schools and districts work against the odds to “provide an excellent education for their students.”
“This is so much more than numbers or data,” he said. “We are talking about changed lives for thousands of students. I can’t overstate how proud I am of every teacher, administrator and parent who worked to make that happen.”