The Forsyth County Board of Education discussed proposed county district lines and school renaming requests before giving the floor to public comments on the district’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 19.
During a recent meeting, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners discussed new district lines for the county, which must be redrawn every 10 years, and voted to send the proposed map to state delegation for further assessment.
BOE members were also presented with the map, and Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden said commissioners asked that they consider endorsing the proposed lines.
The members passed the endorsement unanimously.
Director of Communications Jennifer Caracciolo spoke to the board on behalf of North Forsyth High and Matt Elementary schools, requesting that they approve the renaming of portions of the buildings in honor of longtime staff members who recently died due to COVID-19.
North Forsyth High School leaders requested that the school be able to change the name of the homestyle cafeteria line to Mama Margaret’s in honor of Margaret Evans, who worked in the school’s cafeteria for more than 20 years.
Darla Light, District 4 representative, said she loved the idea of the name change. She said the students and staff at North Forsyth always knew the homestyle line as Mama Margaret’s because they always knew they could see her there. She said she was known for her sweet, bright nature.
Matt Elementary requested changing the name of its sensory room to the Staci Fyfe Sensory Room, which will be outfitted with new equipment funded by a nonprofit.
Fyfe served as a special education paraprofessional at the school for many years, and the leaders at Matt Elementary wanted to honor her for her legacy and hard work in the school’s department.
The board approved both requests unanimously.
The crowd of community members and students coming out to BOE meetings to discuss the district’s DEI plan has begun to dwindle, with only four speakers coming up to the podium during Tuesday’s meeting.
After last month’s meeting, the district began collecting official feedback on determining district goals and action plans as a part of its upcoming five-year Strategic Plan.
The speakers included Jere Krischel, Jeff Tormey, Mendy Moore and Cindy Martin.
Much like past meetings, they said the DEI plan does not need to be in place in the schools. Instead of fostering an environment of safety and equality, Tormey said the plan is simply a “Trojan Horse” to invite an ideology that many parents don’t agree with.
Both Tormey and Martin said they want to see the district get rid of the current plan and start over with community feedback.
“You’ve talked about pausing it, which is great, but I clearly agree with the scraping [of the plan],” Martin said. “I feel like the trust has been broken. It was such a shocking plan; I feel like we don’t understand one another.”
The board has said recently that they have always involved the community and district stakeholders in the strategic planning every five years.
An online survey where community members can give feedback on the upcoming strategic plan and accreditation is on the district’s website at www.forsyth.k12.ga.us. It will remain open until Nov. 19.
Alliance Academy spotlight
Alliance Academy for Innovation Principal Brandi Cannizzaro updated the board on the school’s progress since opening in 2018.
Students have an opportunity to apply for Alliance Academy each year through a process like the school system’s out-of-district form, and if accepted into the school, they have access to 15 different career, technical and agricultural education pathways.
Cannizzaro said the school tries to add new pathways each year, and next school year, they plan to offer drone technology, international business and public management and administration pathways.
These pathways will be available for incoming ninth graders, but current students can also enroll as a secondary pathway.
She said many students at Alliance choose to take part in more than one pathway. Cannizzaro said it would be like choosing a major and a minor in college. In the past year, she said many more students have chosen cybersecurity and digital intelligence as a second pathway.
“The main reason for that, it really is an anomaly for Alliance, is last year, 47% of our students were virtual and were fully virtual on FVA,” Cannizzaro said. “Many of them chose to take Intro to Digital Technology, which is the first [course] in computer science.”
Now that the school is nearly at capacity, with all four grade levels, Cannizzaro said they have started to implement its three learning communities: innovators, heroes and makers.