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Forsyth County Schools leaders make changes to elementary redistricting map, 2023-24 calendar drafts before final approval
school calendar

Forsyth County Schools leaders announced during a Board of Education work session on Tuesday, Nov. 9, that they made several changes to the 2022-23 elementary redistricting map and 2023-24 school calendar.

The elementary redistricting is meant to populate New Hope Elementary School, which is expected to open in August 2022, and relieve nearby overpopulated 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 shrunk over the past several years.

Deputy Superintendent Mitch Young presented the originally drafted attendance lines to the BOE on Oct. 12, and after that time, community members had the chance to give feedback through an online survey and a public forum held at Forsyth Central High School on Oct. 18.

Considering feedback gathered from the community, Young and his team made one major change to the originally drafted map, adding in the entirety of the Brookmeade subdivision located off of Castleberry Road to the New Hope school district.

The subdivision has been built upon since its original construction, and Young said the map did not include those later phases. Now, any later add-ons will also be included in the New Hope district.

While that was the only significant change made to the map, Young also addressed some of the other comments received through the online survey during the work session.

They received many questions about New Hope’s status as an early start school. This simply means classes at the new school will begin at 7:40 a.m. compared to nearby Whitlow Elementary where classes begin at 8:20 a.m.

Young said that differentiation was purposeful, staggering the times in which the schools start to help relieve traffic and put less pressure on the system’s transportation department.

Many also had questions about qualifications for out-of-district waivers for the next school year.

Young reminded everyone that all rising 5th-grade students who have been redistricted do have the option to complete a waiver application to stay at their current schools. This waiver can also be completed for any of their siblings who may also attend the school, but they would have to attend their districted school after that one year.

Transportation is not provided for families who are granted an out-of-district waiver.

Young said the only exception to this rule is for students currently enrolled in the Dual Language Immersion program at Brandywine Elementary.

“They made a commitment to us to be in that program, and so as part of that commitment back, we’ve worked with transportation, and that will be provided to them until such as a time as they complete the program,” Young said.

The newly drafted map will be presented to the BOE on Tuesday, Nov. 16 for final approval.

“I know that not everyone is always excited about changing schools, but these are going to be two fabulous schools we’re asking students to move to,” Young said. “We feel really good about the experiences they’ll get there.”

 

2023-24 school calendar

Young and his team also made several changes to the 2023-24 district calendar after receiving feedback from the community, local school councils and school administrators on the original draft presented to the board last month.

The new draft he presented to the board on Tuesday included new early release days on the last day of both the first and second semester of the school year. This will free up time for staff members to clean up classrooms and review and finalize grades before families head off on holiday vacations.

Young said he also removed two early release days in the middle of October, which are usually in place for K-8 family conferences. Instead, he said it will be replaced with one asynchronous online learning day on Oct. 19.

He said this not only will create fewer disturbances for families throughout the week, but it will also give families the chance to attend conferences in the morning if they can’t make it in the afternoon.

“And it really gives the K-8 classes, their teachers and students, experience with online learning days,” Young said. “It’s great to have a run-through of that to know what everyone is doing and whose technology is working and not working in the event that you have a shutdown or snow day or inclement weather day where you have to [turn to virtual learning].”

Many staff members showed concerns after the release of the original map draft, which had staff coming back for the start of the second semester with a professional development day on Jan. 2. That was also changed to Jan. 3, to give staff members that extra day after New Year’s Day for travel.

To make up for that missing professional development day, Young and his team moved it to Dec. 20, which will give staff extra time to close out the previous semester and prepare for the next before the holidays.

Another K-8 early release day for family conferences originally scheduled for March 7, was moved one week later, along with the following professional development day, to coincide with the end of the 9-week grading period.

For more information and to see the updated calendar draft, visit the district’s website at www.forsyth.k12.ga.us.

The board will make a final vote on the 2023-24 calendar at their next meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 16.