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Our school district’s history started in 1873 when field schools, log buildings built in cleared Native American fields, were consolidated into one public district. In 1874 Forsyth County Schools (FCS) had 1,456 students in 32 schools. As of November 2016, FCS serves over 46,300 students and is the largest employer in the county with over 4,600 staff members. Over the past ten years, the district has added 20,500 new students and has grown to be the 7th largest out of 180 school districts in Georgia.
Forsyth County Schools is home to 37 schools – 21 elementary, 10 middle, 6 high, and 1 virtual 6-12 school. This year two new schools, Brandywine ES and DeSana MS, opened and many existing schools across the county received additions and renovations, including all high schools. Denmark High School and the Alliance Academy for Innovation, a college and career high school, will open in 2018. Our history is very important to our district, and we have named many of our new schools after former field schools, and local and school leaders.
We operate on a close to $370 million budget, with 73% of our expenses tied to instruction. The budget income is 47.73% from local funds and 52.27% from state and federal funds. The FY17 budget was built maintaining the current millage rate, which is the lowest in Metro-Atlanta. FCS’ per pupil expenditure is $7,597, which is the lowest among the 12 largest districts in the state. To fund capital improvements, the Forsyth County community has approved five bonds since 1992, two sales tax (SPLOST) since 2001 and two SPLOST/bond since 1997. Also, as an original IE2 school district, now called a Strategic Waivers School System, the district operates with increased flexibility to maximize student achievement.
One of the many things that make FCS special is that even with our growth, we still maintain a small town feel and form connections that go beyond the walls of our schools. As one of the nation’s top 11 fastest growing communities, Forsyth County’s growth and increasing diversity have had a positive impact on our schools. Highly motivated students come to our classrooms locally and from all over the world. The fastest growth population is Asian students at 15.21%; the student population is also comprised of White 65.22%, Hispanic 12.94%, Black 3.39%, Multi-Racial 2.79%, American Indian and Pacific, which are both under 1%.
Parental and community support in FCS is unmatched. All schools have active PTA/Os, Local School Councils (LSC), volunteer/mentor programs, and Partners in Education and booster programs. The superintendent has student, teacher, and parent/community advisories and the district announced the first grants from the Forsyth County Education Foundation, which is led by a governing committee of five business and community leaders, this fall. Additionally, the new Alliance Academy for Innovation is a joint project of the City of Cumming, the Forsyth County Public Facilities Authority, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, the University of North Georgia and Lanier Technical College. The academy will be a simulated work environment for high-growth, high-demand, and high-wage occupations as students earn industry credentials and college credit, and will also be an economic development hub for Cumming-Forsyth County regarding post-secondary and business/industry training needs. It will also house a Junior Achievement Discovery Center to serve north Georgia counties.