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Forsyth County Schools completes first phase of strategic planning process, gathers feedback from more than 1,000 stakeholders
Forsyth County Schools

Forsyth County Schools recently announced that the first phase of its 2022-27 strategic planning process is complete as they have gathered feedback from more than 1,000 stakeholders through in-person focus groups and online surveys. 

The data and feedback collected will be used in the next phase where community members, students, school staff and district leaders will help to create objectives and paint a “big picture direction for our system to take for the next five years,” according to a district statement. 

The feedback will be available to these stakeholders as they go through this process and make decisions on overall goals. Other information that will be considered includes financial reports, CCRPI ratings, or College and Career Ready Performance Index, academic achievement, staff retention rates, climate surveys and various other components and reports used to measure school and district progress. 

For more information on these details, visit the district’s website at www.forsyth.k12.ga.us

The district also stated that they will be posting further updates on its website as the 2022-27 strategic planning process continues. 

According to results from the online survey, 871 participants gave feedback to the school system online. Through this survey, they were able to share what they believe are some of the district’s strengths and what areas they believe the district needs to improve.  

Most of the feedback was positive, with participants focusing on the staff, strong academic programs and diverse student population that several said they is the reason they moved to Forsyth County. 

Some feedback focused on the pandemic and the school district’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program, which sparked a debate last year around the district’s previous strategic plan. 

Several participants wrote that there should have been a mask mandate in place at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year as cases of COVID-19 grew with the introduction of the delta variant. While the district did put in place COVID-19 precautions, leaders have not forced a mask mandate on parents or students since the start of the pandemic. 

Others commented that they appreciated district leaders giving their families a choice to wear a mask or not wear a mask. 

Participants also had the chance to rank a list of priorities for the district in a preferred order of importance. 

Nearly 48% of participants ranked academic excellence for students as their top priority, followed by safety and security (38%); recruiting and retaining high quality staff (37%); culture of belonging for students, family and staff (26%); student life skills such as financial literacy (24%); operational effectiveness such as facilities, technology and transportation (18%); and financial efficiency of the school district (17%). 

Aside from the online survey, selected stakeholders also had the opportunity to take part in three separate focus groups sessions. In these groups, they were able to speak more about what they believe are the district’s strengths, areas of improvement, opportunities and threats. 

While strengths and areas of improvement relate directly to the school system, opportunities and threats are positive or negative outside forces that have an impact on FCS and student learning. 

According to data available on the district’s website, many of the focus groups agreed on several of these attributes of the school system. 

 

The most agreed upon strengths include: 

  • The highly-qualified teachers and staff members; 

  • The autonomy provided to individual schools to create their own programs and school cultures; 

  • The feeling of a small school environment despite FCS being such a large district; 

  • And the academic pathways that offer hands-on, in-depth experience to students. 

 

The most agreed upon areas of improvement include: 

  • The lack of a diverse staff to match the diverse student body represented in FCS; 

  • Increasing class size; 

  • The need for more teachers for classroom support in all areas; 

  • And the lack of life skills embedded into curriculums. 

 

The most agreed upon opportunities for FCS include: 

  • The county’s diversity of cultures and languages; 

  • Additional mental health programs to address mental health challenges; 

  • Partnerships between the school system and local businesses, nonprofits, churches and more; 

  • And additional trades and pathways for students not planning to go to college. 

 

The most agreed upon threats to FCS include: 

  • Social media; 

  • The tremendous growth in the county; 

  • The mental health of students, teachers, parents and staff members; 

  • And an overwhelming teacher workload. 

Once the feedback is reviewed by stakeholders on the district’s planning committee, objectives will be created to help reflect the overall feedback.  

Created objectives will then be reviewed by an action and accountability committee, which will determine measurable action steps and targets to ensure Forsyth County Schools can reach these goals.  

After another review, the final 2022-27 Strategic Plan will be presented in May to the Forsyth County Board of Education for approval.