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What to know from the Board of Education’s last meeting of 2020
Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden speaks to the Board of Education during its Tuesday meeting.

The Forsyth County Board of Education met on Tuesday, Dec. 15, to hold a dedication for the district’s retirees, honor a long-time board member, give thanks to the Morrow Community Foundation and approve the purchase of new buses for the district.


Honoring Nancy Roche

Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden thanked Forsyth County Board of Education Chair Nancy Roche at her last board meeting on Tuesday as she prepares to step down from her seat at the end of the year.

She will be finishing up 20 years on the board at the end of the month, and Bearden and the board took some time during the meeting to reflect on how much the school district has grown in those years and how Roche has impacted each of them as they themselves joined the board.

Bearden has been working with Roche for the last seven years, and he said it was easy for him to think of words to describe her to the community — smart, prepared, focused, personable, kind, respectful, amazing, data driven, relationship focused, goal oriented and many, many more.

“Your legacy, Nancy, is secure,” Bearden said. “The 20 years you have served the children of this community, you’ve done it with your heart and your soul. It hasn’t always been easy. You’ve had to make some tough decisions along the way, but you always followed your own heart and your own instinct. You always did what was best for the children of the entire community.”

Bearden then read off some of the district's accomplishments while Roche has served on the board from a plaque that he later presented to her.

These included:

●     Opened 24 new or replacement schools — 13 elementary, seven middle, four high schools;

●     Planned for five future openings — one elementary, one middle, one high school and two support buildings;

●     Four bonds and three SPLOST referendums approved by voters.;

●     34,449 new students since starting on the board in 2001;

●     Bring Your Own Technology and online learning for school closures;

●     First high school in 50 years to open;

●     2019 Georgia Governance Team of the Year;

●     Highest ACT and SAT scores among students in metro Atlanta;

●     Highest graduation rate in district history at 96%;

●     Numerous national awards for technology.

The other board members gave thanks to Roche for being an inspiration to them and a mentor for those who joined the board later.

“You’ve been such a great mentor I think for all of us when we first came on the board, and I appreciate that you always listened even if you sometimes would think … ‘she’s crazy,’” District 4 Board Member Darla Light said. “You were always listening and took us seriously.”

Tearing up, Roche thanked the board for their kind words.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with each and every one of you and watch you grow and develop …. I look around, and to see what we’ve accomplished in the last 20 years is just amazing,” Roche said. “I’m looking forward to watching the next 20 and seeing what happens in Forsyth. We can only do great things, that’s for sure.”


New bus purchases

The BOE also approved the purchase of new school buses during the Tuesday meeting.

FCS Director of Transportation Mike Satterfield recommended the approval of the purchase of 19 new buses, four of which would be special needs buses. He said that the buses will be consistent with those purchased in the past few years.

The cost will come out to more than $1.7 million, which Satterfield said will be paid out of the school bond that voters approved in 2018.

“Thank you to our citizens for passing that bond in 2018,” Bearden said. “[It] enables us to take care of our fleet, which is critically important for the safety of our students and staff.”


iChallenge funds

Bearden also thanked Dr. Jim and Peggie Morrow, founders of the Morrow Community Foundation, for their support for the district and its students after recently receiving funds from the couple’s latest fundraising event in the fall.

The first annual iChallenge was a month-long virtual fundraising event held throughout the district in October hosted by the Morrow Community Foundation and North Georgia Community Foundation. They ended up raising and donating $41,579 to the FCS district.

In a statement that Bearden read during Tuesday’s meeting, FCS Director of Instructional Technology Jason Naile said that the funds will be used “to provide filtered hot spots and devices to students in need to ensure students have the connectivity needed to be successful in today’s connected world.”

“We would like to thank everyone who participated in the iChallenge, all of our sponsors of the iChallenge, all the school-based team leaders — we had coaches at every school encouraging participation throughout our district,” Bearden read from Naile’s statement. “We specifically want to thank Kayla Duncan, who works in this office in the teaching and learning department. She provided support and encouragement to the school-based team leaders.”

Bearden also thanked Dr. Jim and Peggie Morrow for the donation and for their continued support over the last seven years.

“This funding enables us to continue to invest in our students,” Bearden said.


First semester retirees

FCS Director of Communications Jennifer Caracciolo read the names of 21 district employees who plan to retire this year, recognizing them for their service and dedication to FCS and its students.

Caracciolo mentioned that the district usually recognizes the retirees at the end of the school year, but with so many retirees this year, they decided to split the ceremony into first semester and second semester retirees.

Those recognized, along with their families, were able to watch the dedication at the board meeting from home through the live stream available on the district’s YouTube channel.

The district’s first semester retirees are:

●     Tim Amerson, director of Facilities Planning at the Professional Development Center;

●     Celeste Bauer, secretary at Johns Creek ES;

●     Suzy Besson-Martilotta, teacher at Brookwood ES;

●     Valerie Bowers, director of Food and Nutrition Services at the Professional Development Center;

●     Eloise Busbin, Food Service Assistant at North Forsyth HS;

●     Robin Caubo, teacher at Matt ES;

●     Theresa Collum, secretary at Riverwatch MS;

●     Deborah Flegal, teacher at Brandywine ES;

●     Martha Guzman, custodian at Cumming ES;

●     Kim Hendon, teacher at Silver City ES;

●     Susie Holbrook, secretary at Piney Grove ES;

●     Becky Ingram, Food Service Assistant at Sharon ES;

●     Rebecca Johnson, ES Teaching and Learning Director at the Professional Development Center;

●     Rene Jones, secretary at Sharon ES;

●     Phyllis Lindsay, paraprofessional at DeSana MS;

●     Charlotte Nolan, teacher at Chattahoochee ES;

●     Kimberly Osborne, paraprofessional at Settles Bridge ES;

●     Elena Valdez, teacher at Lakeside MS;

●     Mary VanBavel, secretary at the Professional Development Center;

●     Lisa Williams, paraprofessional at Whitlow ES;

●     Ivan Zeitlin, paraprofessional at Shiloh Point ES.

“Thank you for your dedication and service to our children and our school system,” Caracciolo said. “We wish you a very happy, very safe, healthy retirement and future.”

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