East Forsyth High School team presents information on its Suicide Prevention Awareness Program

News

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness month and East Forsyth High School counseling team and student leaders shared information about the school’s Suicide Prevention Awareness Program during Monday’s Board of Education meeting.

Jill McKee

The team developed activities to stress the idea that it is okay to talk about mental health.

“We are committed to connecting our students, our community, and our staff to mental health resources and collaborating to teach them how to seek help for themselves or a friend,” said East Forsyth Assistant Principal Jill Mckee.”

Josh Owens, lead counselor at East Forsyth, shared some sobering information from the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention what indicates mental health challenges for students is increasing.

Josh Owens

“The latest data we could find states that one in five teenagers in the U.S. experienced episodes of major depression between 2013 and 2018 and that suicide rates increased by 57 percent between 2007 and 2018,” Owens said.

Signs of Suicide Prevention screeners found that 10.5 percent of ninth grade students experienced depression and eight were referred for counseling during the 2021-22 school year.

With the start of the new school year, East Forsyth has implemented the second year of its Signs of Suicide Prevention Program to encourage all students to seek help from trusted adults whether they have concerns about themselves or a friend.

Speakers identified several partners in the Program, including Family Ties, Mentor Me and the Place

Forsyth parent blasts District Media Committee as “biased, left-leaning”

News

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Cindy Martin, the mother of an 11th grade student in the Forsyth County School System, said this week she is incensed by a “biased and left-leaning” District Media Committee decision to return sexually explicit books to school libraries.

Cindy Martin

In February, School Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden said the books were reviewed administratively. “It was determined they were not appropriate to be in the public schools,” he said.

Director of Communications Jennifer Caracciolo added, “The content in them was what we consider pervasively vulgar.”

So Martin said said she was shocked when the media committee voted unanimously to return seven of the books to the schools.

“The committee is very far left-leaning and has a lot of power,” Martin said. “They decide everything regarding books that are in our school system. What I don’t like about this committee is there are only two non school-employed parents out of 21 members. The rest are all employed by the school system. Parents have no say in what goes on. There needs to be a majority of parents because it’s our kids checking these books out.”

Martin recalled one meeting where she and others made seven recommendations to the committee and all were shot down by a unanimous vote.  “I don’t even know how that is statistically possible, she said. “They had their decisions made before the meeting started. That shows they are biased.”

People close to the school system said a lawsuit was threatened if the books were not returned to schools and that led to the formation of the committee, a group of 21 members, including two are school system employees.

The committee’s surprising decision has raised questions about who this group is and how did they get the power to override a decision made by one of the highest paid superintendent’s in Georgia.

The committee is not answerable to the public and appears to have been established to protect Bearden and the Board of Education from public criticism.

The group is made up of 21 members  — Jason Naile, Lisa Newberry, Courtney Bean, Robin Elmor, Amy Bartlett, Heather Gordy, Darlene Fletcher, Danielle Steele, Ginny Daniels, Dawn Hall, Vicky Spera, Juline Berry, Mac Barron, Jeff Short, Shawn Dillard, Van Lewsader, Liz Rushton, Carrie McAllaster, Becky Britton, Carol Tisdale and Tammi Bramblett. All but two are school employees.

The books that were initially found to be inappropriate are

  • “All Boys Aren’t Blue”
  • “L8r, g8r”
  • “Juliette Takes A Breath”
  • “Me Earl and the Dying Girl”
  • “Nineteen Minutes”
  • “The Bluest Eye”
  • “The Infinite Moment of Us”
  • “Out of Darkness”

CFO Hammel presents July financial report

News

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Chief Financial Officer Larry Hammel presented the July financial report at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

Larry Hammel

The report showed cash receipts of $27,674,417.53 and disbursements of $39,854,182 .50 for the first quarter of this fiscal year. Accounts payable totaled 21,152,311.55 and payroll $18,701,870.95.

SPLOST V collected a total of $50.9 million, compared to $52.7 the previous year and SPLOST VI collected $14.9 million in the first quarter.

This year’s budget is $593,754,783 and $567,055,315 remains available.

Special revenue funds stand at $765,996. The capital project fund cash balance is $30,401,179.52 and the fund balance is $17.3 million.

Senate Bill 588 required the Board to revise its current policy with regard to public participation at public meetings prior to Oct. 1.

The Bill states  “…members of the public shall not be removed from such public meetings except for actual disruption and in accordance with rules adopted and published by the local board of education; to provide that visual and sound recording shall be permitted at such public meetings; to provide for the authority of superior courts to enforce compliance and award relief; to provide for attorneys’ fees; to provide for construction; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.”

The Board approved the purchase of lighting for the Forsyth Center for Arts and Living from Barbizon Lighting Company for $157,401.96.

Lawsuit claims Forsyth County Board of Education violated parents first amendment rights

News

Atlanta, GA – Alison Hair and Cindy Martin, members of an organization known as Mama Bears of Forsyth County, filed a federal lawsuit Monday that claims Chairman Wesley McCall and the Forsyth County Board of Education violated their First Amendment rights by banning Hair from participating in Board meetings.

The Institute for Free Speech filed the complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Martha Astor an attorney for the Institute said, “The Board may think their speech is offensive, but it’s protected by the First Amendment. School officials cannot censor or ban parents from repeating ‘inappropriate’ language at board meetings, especially when they quote from relevant school materials and library books,”

At the heart of the lawsuit is a March 15 meeting of the Board of Education when Hair attempted to read one passage from a book that contains graphic descriptions of sex acts that parents wants removed from school system libraries.

Board Chairman Wesley McCall demanded she stop reading and authorized a letter signed by the entire Board to be sent to Hair prohibiting her from participating in any future meetings until she provides a written guarantee that she will abide by the Chair’s directives.

Astor said the Board, cannot require that citizens sacrifice their First Amendment rights as a precondition for participating in meetings, the lawsuit explains.

Board rules allow members of the public to reserve three minutes of speaking time at any regular monthly board meeting to share their views on topics relevant to Forsyth County Schools.

Multiple district residents, including Hair, Martin and other Mama Bears members have used their time to read aloud from school library books they consider pornographic. While these materials are available to kids in school, the Chair has cut off and banned speakers who read from them at Board meetings when he deems the language inappropriate or profane.

“This lawsuit does not try to resolve the question of which books should be available in school libraries, but instead addresses unlawful attempts to sanitize how parents speak about those books in the presence of elected officials and other adults,” the lawsuit states. “The First Amendment guarantees Plaintiffs’ rights to speak out and petition the government about which books belong in school libraries, and to do so by reading from those books during board meetings.”

The lawsuit further states, “The Board’s unconstitutional demands and policies are exacerbated by aggressive enforcement tactics and a chilling environment for dissent. Wesley McCall, the board’s chair and a defendant in the lawsuit, has opened every meeting since February with a reading of the public participation policy and a warning that violators will be stopped if they use profane or inappropriate language. The Board also began stationing two armed police officers and a security guard at meetings, with one officer hovering nearby when members of the public spoke. Chair McCall has repeatedly interrupted and argued with speakers he disagrees with, sometimes refusing to return the speaking time he takes from them.”

Martin said, “We will not back down from protecting our children or defending our First Amendment rights. The Mama Bears of Forsyth County formed spontaneously when mothers across the district discovered the sexually explicit books in our children’s school libraries. When Chairman McCall and the board censored us from reading the explicit language in these books because children were in the room, they proved our point.”

About the Institute for Free Speech

The Institute for Free Speech is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that promotes and defends the First Amendment rights to freely speak, assemble, publish, and petition the government. Originally known as the Center for Competitive Politics, it was founded in 2005 by Bradley A. Smith, a former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission. The Institute is the nation’s largest organization dedicated solely to protecting First Amendment political rights.

Forsyth County women attacked by radical left cancel culture mob

News

Lindsey Henderson

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. – Two women who have publicly called for the removal of obscenity in books and material in the Forsyth County School System became victims of the radical left, cancel culture mob last week. The group is known to use threats and intimidation to control their opposition.

Both women are members of the Concerned Parents of Forsyth County Georgia Facebook Page and both attended the Forsyth County Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 15.

During the meeting, Lindsey Henderson received a text message from her husband stating that he received a voice mail threatening harm to his heating and air conditioning business if Lindsey continued to speak out.

When she got home, she listened to the voice mail and this is what she heard:

“Keep running your mouth about books in Forsyth County and trying to parent everyone else’s kids and we, the people of Forsyth County, will dictate who your customers are. I can guarantee you we will put out an ad against your company within two weeks.”

Henderson said she laughed when she first listened to the recording. “I thought it was ridiculous. Then I got angry and we made sure all our doors were locked that night. I had no idea who this person was and what they were capable of.”

She reported the threat to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and was told that it has been turned over to the Major Crimes Unit for investigation.

After listening to the voice mail with friends several times, Henderson said she thinks she knows the caller’s identity but declined to name him while the investigation is ongoing. She did say if she is right, he has a criminal history including felony and misdemeanor trespassing charges in Florida and a 2019 arrest for disorderly conduct in Gwinnett County.

“I’m not going to let this threat stop me from standing up for what I believe in and for my child,” Henderson said.

If located, the caller could be prosecuted for making terroristic threats.

The second lady, who did not want to be named in this article, reported that she was spit on as she left the School Board meeting.

She said while walking through the lobby with friends, a woman approached her, began screaming at her then spit on her.

“She pulled her mask down and spit on me then someone grabbed her arm and pulled her away,” she said. She said the believes the woman is a middle school teacher in another county.

The incident was apparently sparked by her comments during the meeting. She read excerpts from the book “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” that contained graphic and extremely obscene language of a sexual nature.

On Friday, she reported the incident to the Sheriff’s Office.

Asked if she plans to stop speaking out publicly, she said, “Are you kidding me? I still care about this generation. For me to stop speaking out would be sinful.”

 

 

Forsyth County citizens irate over “pornography” in public school libraries

News

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. – Hundreds of citizens — incensed by the “filth” they say can be found on the public school library shelves in Forsyth County — crowded into the Board of Education meeting room Tuesday to express their outrage at the Board and Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden.

At least three Forsyth County deputies were in attendance but, while there was a white-hot anger expressed by some parents, the hearing was peaceful.

Allison Hair was the first to speak but when she began to read an excerpt from “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” that contained a graphic description of oral sex, Chairman Wes McCall quickly gaveled her to a stop, saying, “We have younger people here.” That drew laughter from the audience and outrage from Hair, who shouted, “If it’s inappropriate to be read in this body, it is inappropriate to be in our schools. How dare you say there are minors here. My son is a minor and this book is in my son’s middle school.”

Hair added, “This Board has let us down. Each of you has accountability for what you are doing to my child. You all should be ashamed. You are accountable for the filth you have brought into our schools. Who are you to introduce pornographic material to my child?”

Carey McLaughlin said she has personally read more than 70 books in middle and high school libraries that portrayed graphic descriptions of intercourse, oral sex, masturbation, sexual assault, date rape, sexual trafficking, and sex with a teacher.

“These are the books I personally found,” she said. “I’m sure there are more than just at that one school, which means there are hundreds in our school district. When I followed the process to have these books reviewed, I was told that only one book can be reviewed over a 45-day period. At that rate, it will take 12 years for these obscene books to be removed.”

Cindy Martin said the process is unacceptable and she called on Bearden to conduct an audit. “If he does not, he is in dereliction of his duties and we demand this Board remove him from his position immediately,” she said. Her comment was met with loud applause from the audience.

Martin added that Bearden told her he had removed eight books and that he was done. Martin said he told her the rest was “up to the parents.”

Amy Perlman accused the Board of not meeting its legal obligations. “When evidence of improper conduct of a teacher is given to the administration to handle, the Board is required to report that unethical conduct to the Georgia Professional Standards Code of Ethics as a violation. Why is Forsyth County not honoring that legal requirement?”

Four people spoke in opposition to removing books.

James Barker, who graduated from Lambert High School three years ago, said, “I share the concern of many parents here. We have an issue with sexually explicit content in the books. Parents should have a say in what (children) can check out of the library.” But he expressed concern that books like Of Mice and Men and 1984 might be removed. He suggested putting books in school libraries that can only be checked out with parental approval.

 

 

 

WFHS teacher assignment: Spy on parents, students, other teachers

News

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — A recent West Forsyth High School graduate told the Board of Education that a sociology, psychology class assignment during her senior year required students to spy on their parents, teachers and fellow students to report derogatory statements they make about certain classes of people.

Caroline Andrews said, “So I had a Forsyth County school teacher tell me I should listen to the language of my parents and spy on them. I think that is entirely inappropriate and I think that should be investigated.”

Caroline Andrews

The assignment, which was entitled Tracking Prejudice Speech in School, directed the class to track derogatory comments heard during a school day about racial/ethnic minorities, women, religious groups, different sexual orientation and the physically and mentally handicapped and to keep a tally of how many times each group has been spoken about in a derogatory manner that day. It also directed students to “DO THIS PRIVATELY.”

She presented a copy of the assignment to support her claim.

She also called on the Board to stop creating classes like the new Women’s Study class. The teacher in question, Andrews said, serves on the advisory board for the class.

“Do you think this type of politics won’t make its way into these intro classes? So I am here tonight to ask the Board to please, please, please stop implementing these classes because they will be methods to teach cultural Marxism to students and please investigate any teachers that are trying to get students to turn against their parents.

“I’ve studied history. I know what happened in the cultural revolution of China. This kind of assignment that led to that and I think it should be investigated.”

Board members did not respond to our request for comment on this article nor have they responded to Ms. Andrews.

 

 

 

 

 

 

School Board elects new officers

News

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. – The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners elected a new slate of officers for 2022 this week. Wesley McCall will serve as chairman and 2021 Chairman Kristen Morrissey will serve as vice chairman.

Shiloh Point Elementary Principal Ben Jones and others reviewed the school’s 5-year plan which focused on reading and research with a goal of establishing “student ownership of every classroom.” The three primary pillars of the plan are mastery based learning, social emotional learning and authentic learning.

Chief Financial Officer Larry Hammel presented a monthly financial report that showed the school system began the month of December with a cash balance of $207,358,115 and ended the month on December with $213,978,388. In January 2021, the balance was just over $181 million.

At this point, 97.15 percent of the ad valorem taxes have been collected, compared to 96.43 percent collections at this time last year.

December expenditures totaled $40.8 million. Yearly expenditures totaled $251.8 million.

There was also a discussion about the future of the Forsyth Virtual Academy. Beginning with the 2022-23 school year, elementary school students will continue to be full-time synchronous learning students while both middle and high schools can be a full-tieme or part-time virtual students.

Mike Evans said the school system has received $2.2 million as part of the Emergency Connectivity Fund that is part of the federal government’s American Rescue Plan.

During the Public Comment period, several students called on the Board to implement mask mandate to prevent the spread of COID-19. A student who graduated last year, called on the Board to investigate a lession plan at West Forsyth High school that required students to spy on their parents and other students. Fetch Your News will have more information on that in a separate article.

 

School Board’s refinance of bond debt could save taxpayers $7.17 million

News

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. – During Thursday’s meeting, the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution brought by the Board of Education that will allow the school system to refinance its GO bond indebtedness at a greatly reduced interest rate that will save Forsyth County taxpayers millions of dollars.

The resolution provides for the County to levy and collect the school board’s annual ad valorem tax for payment of prime and interest rate on $109,285,000.

As County Attorney Ken Jarrard explained, “They went out to market their bonds and had extraordinarily strong demand. They have a AAA rating from Moody’s and S&P and therefore were able to leverage an interest rate 10 basis points lower than they thought, resulting in a cumulative savings of $7.17 million.”

In other decisions, Commissioners:

  • Approved a request by Native Development Group LLC to rezone from Commercial business District (CBD) to Restricted Industrial District (M1) on 6.641 acres located near the intersection of Atlanta Hwy. and Pendley Road for an 89,745 sq. ft. office/warehouse with 100 parking spaces with Conditional Use Permits (CUPs) for an open storage yard with 7 parking spaces and to conduct around the clock business hours;
  • The County-Initiated request for approval of a Sketch Plat to build a 20,720 sq. ft. expansion in addition to an existing 76,000 sq. ft. office/manufacturing facility with 49 parking spaces on 5 acres on Grassland Parkway currently zoned Restricted Industrial District (M1) with variances to UDC Table 14.2 – Parcel 018-084 – SP210011;
  • The County-Initiated request to rezone from Agricultural District (A1) to Restricted Industrial District (M1) with variances to UDC 18-5.18, UDC Table 17.1, and UDC 14-4.13 – Parcels 250-170 and 250-228 – ZA4035 located west of Crossroads Road ;
  • A request for an Amendment of Zoning Conditions on ZA2300 (M W & W, LLC) by Gtechniq North America, Inc. and a variance to UDC Table 12.2 – Parcel 239-238 – AZ210041. Gtechniq North America, Inc. – CP210021 – to build a 4,000 sq. ft. car wash with 11 parking spaces on 1.30 acres at Hammond Industrial Drive currently zoned Commercial Business District (CBD) with the following variance: 1.) Eliminate the 5,000 ft. sewer distance requirement to facilitate the use of an on-site septic disposal system;
  • Held the first of two public hearing on a proposed modification to the County’s Stormwater Management Code, otherwise known as Ordinance 75, including support documents and manuals to ensure compliance with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s model ordinance; to repeal conflicting ordinances; and for other purposes;
  • Held the first of two public hearings on proposed modifications to the Short-Term Rental Ordinance. NOTE the short term rental mechanism only had applicability to those who have received a CUP for short-term activity and are located in Agriculture district;
  • Approved an amendment to conditions placed on Conditional Alcohol License, AL01124, for Tonique LLC d/b/a Tonique Fine Wine & Spirits;
  • Approved a CUP for Chapman and Leonard, a camera supply business for the motion picture industry to build five new buildings totaling 59,000 square feet for outside storage.

School Board public forum set Monday at Forsyth Central

Featured Stories, News

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. – The Forsyth County Board of Education will hold a public forum in the Forsyth Central High School Auditorium Monday (Oct. 18) at 6 p.m.

Board members will not answer questions.

Speakers will be allotted 3 minutes for individuals and 5 minutes per group. A yellow card will be held up when there is one minute remaining and a red card will be held up when the speaker’s time has ended.

The Board Chair will call speakers to the microphone. All remarks shall be made to the Board as a body and addressed through the Chair.  Remarks shall not be addressed to individual Board members.

Speakers may bring printed material and other supporting materials.  These materials should be given to the Clerk of the Board.

Speakers are asked to keep their remarks civil.  Profane, rude, defamatory remarks and personal attacks will not be allowed.  Audience members and speakers that are disruptive will be asked to leave.

Principal Webb updates School Board on progress of New Hope Elementary

News

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. – New Hope Elementary School Principal Laura Webb gave the Board an overview of the progress of the county’s newest school during Tuesday’s Board of Education work session.

When New Hope opens next fall, it will help to relieve overcrowding at Vickery Creek, Midway, Shiloh Point and Whitlow elementary schools. Webb said she anticipates an enrollment of about 900 students initially depending on how the redistricting map is drawn.

Webb said she plans to engage the community prior to the school’s opening by offering parent meetings, meet and greet sessions and spirit night to allow parents to come together and meet the staff.

“I have an extensive list of community partners and organizations,” she said. “We really are looking forward to the possibilities and potential of forming these relationships and partnerships so we can work together to support all the needs of our students.”

The new school will have a unique design unlike any other school in Forsyth with built-in S.T.EM. and robotics labs.

“We are dedicated to providing academic support and programs for our students that will allow them to reach their full potential, said Webb.

Chief Facilities Officer Matt Wark provided and update on his department’s activities.

Wark said the staff takes a “tremendous amount of pride” in the work they do, taking care of 43 school facilities nearly 8 million square feet of buildings, 2,000 acres of ponds, landscaping, water, sewer, fencing, parking lots and paving. “Our total crew is 51 staff members,” he said. “It is a tremendous amount of work and our guys are on call 24-7. We average 1,100-1,500 work orders a month. It’s been a challenge and the next five years will be even more challenging.”

The Board also got its first look at a draft of the proposed 2022-’23 school district attendance map for elementary schools. Middle and high school districts will remain unchanged.

Potentially impacted elementary schools include, but are not limited to, Whitlow, Shiloh Point, Vickery Creek, Midway, Brandywine and Big Creek. The timeline for adoption of the map is:

  • Oct 13-27 Stakeholders can provide comments on the proposed map online at the Board of Education website;
  • 18 a public forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Forsyth Central High School;
  • 9, the Board of Education will discuss public input, review staff recommendations and changes at 4 p.m. meeting;
  • 1- Jan. 14 Out of district applications period.

Mike Evans, Chief Technology and Information Officer, and Tim Fleming, Director of Technology Services, demonstrated features of the new analytic dashboard. One of the unique features is an Academic Virtual Assistant (AVA) that allows staff to predict with 97 percent accuracy based on past performance which students will not graduate unless  the receive help.

 

 

Forsyth County Schools System begins work on new five-year strategic plan

News

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. – A Forsyth County School System strategic plan that included components of the controversial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion that has enraged many parents and students will be revised over the next seven months and the community is invited to participate.

Board members received the timeline for adoption of a new five-year timeline at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting. Stakeholder survey will begin being distributed throughout the community this month and participants can provide their comments through November.

Planning committees made up of community members, business leaders and school leaders will form in February to review survey feedback and prioritize goals and objectives. Then from March through April, an action and accountability committee will develop targets and action steps designed to reach the desired goal and draft a plan to present to the Board for final approval.

There will be three focus groups made up of community, business and school leaders hosted by Alliance Academy for Innovation, 1100 Lanier 400 Parkway from. Meetings will be held on Oct. 26, Nov. 1 and Nov. 8 from 6:30 – 8 p.m. The meetings are open to the public and will include roundtable discussions.

The Board is expected to receive a proposed plan in April for final adoption.

During the meeting, the Board also recognized the Lambert High School girls’ golf team and its coach Shane Fortenberry for winning the National Championship at Pinehurst, N.C. in June by 28 strokes over the runner-up.

 

 

Inflation, DEI opponents could pose serious challenge to E-SPLOST VI

News

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. – On July 20, the Forsyth County Board of Education unanimously approved an education special purpose local option sales tax (E-SPLOST) referendum resolution that will be voted on in November.

The millage rate will remain at 17.30 where it has been the last five years but rising home values will add about 2 percent to homeowners’ tax bill. With the inflation rate at a 13-year high, prices rising at the gas pump, the grocery store and the real estate market and tax payers’ growing resentment of the Board of Education, E-SPLOST VI may have to travel a very bumpy road until November.

Voters have approved the last five E-SPLOST referendums, but the economic climate was never this bad nor the Board of Education’s approval rating this low.

Hundreds of taxpayers — furious about the school system’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policy –have flooded the Board of Education meeting room for months seeking to have the school board end the policy they believe indoctrinates students with a Marxist/socialist philosophy. State Representative Sheri Gilligan called the policy “division, exclusion and intimidation.”

DEI opponents are talking about mounting a recall effort and forming a “NO E-SPLOST” coalition. Others are quietly preparing to challenge the two Board members — Wes McCall and Kristin Morrissey – who are up for reelection next year.

The Board has not completed its E-SPLOST VI project list, but capital projects that could be funded include $25,000,000 for “life cycle upgrades” and $38,000,000 for a new elementary school to replace Midway Elementary.

This is how the ballot referendum will appear on the ballot:

Shall a 1 percent sales and use tax for the educational purposes of the Forsyth County School District be re-imposed within Forsyth County upon the termination of the one percent sales and use tax for educational purposes presently in effect for a maximum period of time of 20 calendar quarters for the purposes of providing funds to pay (1) the cost of (a) acquiring, constructing and installing one new elementary school to replace an existing elementary school, (b) acquiring land for future schools and other facilities, instructional and administrative technology improvements (including without limitation) necessary software and student and staff laptop devices), school buses, other vehicles and transportation equipment and safety and security equipment (c) adding to renovating, repairing and improving and equipping existing school buildings and other buildings and facilities useful or desirable in connection therewith, and (d) acquiring any necessary property therefor, both real and personal all at a maximum cost of $25,000,000 and (2) the cost of retiring a portion of the School District’s General Obligation Refunding Bonds, Series 2013, General Obligation Bonds, Series 2016, General Obligation, Series 2018, and General Obligation Bonds, Series 2020 (or any general obligation bonds issued to refund such bonds) by paying or making provision for the payment of any portion of the principal and interest of such bonds coming due on August 1, 2023 through August 1,2026 in the maximum amount of $50,000,000.

 

Demand intensifies for School Board to end DEI

News

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Opponents of the Forsyth County School Board’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) plan ramped up the pressure on Board members to end what they believe is a new form of segregation during Tuesday’s Board meeting.

The room was filled to capacity with stakeholders. About 90 percent opposed DEI. A small but noisy group of students were on hand to express their support for DEI.

While the speakers were mostly respectful, one student accused opponents of “ignorance” and “racism.”

Turner Davis, a rising junior at Denmark High said, “In recent weeks and months, our county has faced a group of concerned parents who have fallen victim to conspiracy, untrue information and their own ignorance. “It may seem there are a lot of people here who are opposed to DEI when they are only a loud minority who are trying to hide their racism and explicit biases by acting as concerned parents.”

Davis also lashed out at the School Board for suspending all DEI training until further review. “I’m astonished at the lengths this Board will go to accommodate the outlandish, irrational paranoia these parents exhibit.”

But those who spoke in opposition to DEI were a remarkably well-educated and diverse group. At least two had obtained a PhD and another a Master’s Degree. There were engineers, architects and teachers and one former law enforcement officer who spoke in opposition. The group also included multiple minorities like one Black parent, a Cuban-American father, and two women who fled Communist China.

Jonathan Beckford, an African-American husband and father of four, who immigrated to the U.S. when he was 17 said he struggled financially at first, but completed a double major at the University of Arkansas and has since risen up the corporate ladder and made a comfortable living for his family.

Beckford said he stands firmly against DEI, which he believes is Critical Race Theory (CRT) in disguise.

“One reason is it defines the world as one where humans are powerless as individuals to gain meaning and power due to identity groups. The claim is the world is a collection of man-made power structures that oppress some identities and create advantages for other identities. That is a horrible view of the world, one that I don’t teach my kids and one I would not expect my hard-earned tax dollars to support.”

Following the Public Comment portion of the meeting, Chairwoman Kristin Morrissey said, “We stand behind our plan. We will revise it if needed but we stand behind the need to have a plan to make sure our students are accepted.”

After a brief recess, the Board unanimously approved the $508.8 million FY 2022 General Fund budget that includes $520 million in expenditures with $11.3 million to come from the reserve fund.

 

 

 

Expect another full house when BOE meets Tuesday

News

Dr. Jeff Bearden

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. – The Forsyth County Board of Education will hold two called meetings prior to the regular monthly meeting on Tuesday June 15. At 5 p.m., the Board will meet to discuss ratification of a property sale, followed at 5:30 p.m. by a public hearing on the FY 2022 budget.

Several key items appear on the regular meeting agenda at 6p.m., including approval of the FY 2022 budget and the proposed SPLOST 6 project list.

But, it is the Public Participation portion of that meeting that is expected to draw another standing-room-only crowd when angry opponents of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategic plan to demand it be removed from Forsyth County Schools.

Opponents say that DEI is merely a Trojan horse that hides Critical Race Theory (CRT), an ideology that judges people by the color of their skin and not the content of their character and segregates them into two groups – white people are the oppressors and blacks are the oppressed.

Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden says CRT is not being taught in Forsyth County Schools.

School Board to vote on 2020 redistricting timeline

News

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. – The Forsyth County School Board is expected to approve a timeline for 2020 school redistricting plan when it meets in a voting session Tuesday (Sept. 15) at 6 p.m. in the Board of Education Building 1120 Dahlonega Highway.

Deputy School Superintendent Joey Pirkle presented the proposed timeline for the Board’s consideration at last week’s work session.

The timeline is as follows:

Sept 15 at 6 p.m., the School Board will approve the plan

Oct. 13, staff will present a draft map to the Board at 4p.m.

Oct. 14-28, the public can provide online feedback on the draft map

Oct. 22, a public forum will be held for the middle school draft map at Forsyth Central High School at 6 p.m.

Oct 27, a public forum will be held for the high school draft map at North Forsyth High School at 6 p.m.

Nov. 10, School Board will discuss public input, review staff recommendations and any proposed changes 4 p.m.

Nov. 17 School Board approves the final plan

Dec. 1 through Jan. 8 Out-of-district application period.

The purpose of redistricting is to relieve overcrowding at existing schools and populate any new schools opening.

Schools that will need to be populated are Hendricks Middle School grades 6 through 8 and East Forsyth High School grades 9 through 11. Both schools are scheduled to open August 2021.

Consent Agenda items to be approved Tuesday include;

 

Door Access Control

Solid Waste Removal

Trash Can Liners

Media Furniture Program

ACE/FOCL ERRCS system

 

Presentation and discussion items include a financial report.

 

Action items include

Choosing a general contractor for the new elementary school

Naming of the new elementary school

 

Points of information include:

Work order reports;

Extension service activity report;

Zoning impact statement;

Approved fundraisers;

Overnight fundraisers;

Monthly attendance report.

 

 

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