The Forsyth County Board of Education discussed several district updates during uts latest work session on Tuesday, Nov. 10, including the board’s 2021 legislative priorities and Hendrick Middle School’s development.
2021 legislative priorities
Forsyth County Schools Communications Director Jennifer Caracciolo presented familiar district legislative priorities for 2021 to the board on Tuesday as they mirrored those that the board had approved last year for 2020.
“The reason I felt like we needed to keep them the same, obviously, when COVID hit here in March, the funding was impacted in a really big way,” Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden said. “And our delegation and the entire delegation for the state had to revamp everything. And so basically, I don’t feel like they really had an opportunity to address what our needs were for this particular school year. I just thought in fairness for them, why throw something new at them when they didn’t really have a chance to address what we discussed last fall?”
The four priorities first presented last fall include keeping students and teachers safe; working to decrease the student counselor to student ratio; proving state funding for the salary, benefits and training of one school resource officer per school in Georgia; recruiting and retaining teachers; increasing the state funding for teachers’ salaries; supporting the state and local partnership to continue the state’s full funding of Quality Basic Education, provide greater flexibility, increase the capital outlay, and maintain the state tax base and local control.
“These items are still critically important not just to us, but to school systems all over the state,” Bearden said.
The board then decided to add one more priority — expanding virtual capacity. They decided to word the priority vaguely to try to meet the needs of any school district as each faces its own challenges and needs when it comes to virtual learning.
“That will mean different things for different systems,” Bearden said. “For some, it will be devices and connectivity. For us, we’re talking more curriculum, instruction, design.”
The board will vote to approve the legislative priorities during its next meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
Hendricks Middle School
Hendricks Middle School Principal Cheryl Riddle presented a quick update to the board during the work session, speaking on the school construction, course offerings and community engagement.
Riddle and Director of Construction Tom Wening said the construction of the new school on Hyde Road is coming along ahead of schedule. Presenting pictures of the construction, Riddle was already imagining what activities they could plan for students outside of the school’s two band rooms and across campus.
Also presenting drafts of what the inside of the school will look like, Riddle said that Hendricks’ media center will be unique in that it will be designed to be a flexible space for students. She said all of the furniture will be mobile so that students can change the space to fit their needs.
The center will also include a STEM lab, which she said will help to promote interdisciplinary connection. Riddle said that she is partnering with Forsyth Central High School and their STEM Academy to create a STEM learning community and to develop the space at Hendricks.
Riddle also asked during the meeting for any future Hendricks student who has suggestions for what should be included in the lab to reach out to her.
As far as course offerings, Riddle said they are similar to those at other middle schools in the county. Besides regular course offerings, students will also have the opportunity to receive high school credit in areas such as science, math, world language and certain electives.
Hendricks, like many middle schools in the county, will also offer an array of activities, clubs and sports. Pathways available at Hendricks include audio/visual tech broadcast, marketing, computer science and engineering and technology.
The school will also be offering a Leadership Academy “that revolves around our students developing core traits and attributes of the learner profile.”
“By the time students leave the nest, they will have engaged with the community and have showcased their experience in a capstone project in eighth grade,” Riddle said.
Going forward, Riddle said she plans to continue to work with other county schools and with community members and business owners to form ties between the school and community that will ultimately benefit students.
“If we all work together, we’ll be able to help our students navigate life with a purpose where everyone is valued, where it’s safe to be their best self and we can take risks,” Riddle said.