The Board of Education approved next school year’s final elementary school attendance map along with the 2023-24 calendar and upcoming legislative priorities at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 16.
The members, and Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden, also certified elections results from the Nov. 2, county-wide election where residents voted on the continuation of the Educational Special Local Option Sales Tax, or E-SPLOST.
The board passed each of these recommendations before giving an update on the Homeless Youth Council.
Elementary school attendance map for 2022-23
Deputy Superintendent Mitch Young first presented the final drafted map of the 2022-23 elementary school attendance map to the board last week during a work session.
The new attendance lines are meant to help populate New Hope Elementary, scheduled to open in August 2022, and relieve overcrowding in existing elementary schools.
To do this, the district plans to move students from Whitlow, Midway, Vickery Creek and Shiloh Point elementary schools into New Hope for the next school year while also moving 133 students from Brandywine to Big Creek Elementary, which has declined in population over the past several years.
The only change from the original draft was the addition of the full Brookmeade subdivision located off Castleberry Road to the New Hope school district.
Eligibility for out-of-district waivers for this redistricting was also extended to students currently enrolled in the Dual Language Immersion program at Brandywine Elementary School.
Families will be able to fill out out-of-district applications Dec. 1 through Jan. 14. For more information, visit www.forsyth.k12.ga.us.
Without any further changes made, the board members approved the map unanimously.
District’s 2023-24 school calendar
Young also presented a first final draft of the 2023-24 school calendar during the work session last week, explaining that he and his team made several changes to the originally drafted calendar based on feedback from local school councils, leadership and community members.
This feedback was received through an online survey available last month.
“I think this is the most we’ve listened to the feedback from all the local school councils, from the community with their survey and actually made some changes with it,” District 1 Representative Wes McCall said. “So good job with that. I know it was hard, but that’s what it needs to be.”
Both Young and Bearden thanked the community and stakeholders for providing feedback so they could make the needed changes.
“It’s always nice when we hear from our stakeholders on what they believe will be the best calendar for our students,” Bearden said.
Some of the additions to the original calendar included early release days on the last days of both semesters, an asynchronous online learning day for K-8 students in October, professional development days before and after the winter holidays and more.
The board unanimously approved the finalized calendar.
More than 12,600 Forsyth County residents voted in the county-wide election on Nov. 2, with 69% voting in favor of the continuation of the E-SPLOST, a 1% tax on all those who purchase goods or services in Forsyth County regardless of where they live.
After the election, the Forsyth County Voter Registrations and Elections board certified the final results of the election, and the same results were presented to the Board of Education Tuesday.
The E-SPLOST was approved by 8,759 voters, and 3,840 individuals voted against the tax.
“A shoutout to the citizens of our community for showing their support of our school system,” Bearden said. “[About] 69% in favor of SPLOST is a very remarkable number. We should all be very proud of that.”
The board unanimously approved the certification of the results.
Legislative priorities for 2022
Director of Communications Jennifer Caracciolo also presented to the board a finalized list of their 2022 legislative priorities going into next year.
She presented the list during the work session last week, explaining that the list is the same as this past year with three new additions.
This includes a push for state funding for one school nurse per school, a change in policy that would allow districts to hire back retired educators into “high-need teaching positions,” and a push to ask state delegates to keep in mind Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act funding inequities while preparing the state budget.
No other changes have been added since she originally presented the draft last week.
Bearden said they will be meeting with their local legislative delegation in the next few weeks to go over these priorities and discuss any priorities the delegation might have.
“The elected officials in Forsyth County work really well together, and we certainly appreciate their support of not only our school system but of public education in general,” Bearden said.
The board approved the list of 2022 legislative priorities unanimously.
Homeless Youth Council
McCall presented an update to the rest of the board on the Homeless Youth Council, focusing specifically on one of the council’s community partners, The Place of Forsyth.
He reminded everyone at the meeting that the local nonprofit hosts Holiday House each year where they collect donated toys and other items to provide for families looking to give their kids a gift for the holidays.
“While the majority of us will have a Christmas this year, there are a lot in the community who won’t, and The Place provides that,” McCall said.
The organization has already started collecting donations for its 7th annual Holiday House this year, providing a gift guide to those interested in helping. McCall said the board and Homeless Youth Council would help in giving this year, especially providing gifts for middle and high school students who are often overlooked.
For more information and to see the gift guide, visit www.theplaceofforsyth.org/holidayhouse.
“If I’m going to have a good, blessed Christmas, I’m going to give back,” McCall said. “And I just want other people to know and have the opportunity and be transparent and say, ‘Hey, there are other organizations out there that need help.’”