Forsyth County Schools complete first phase of strategic planning process and gather input from over 1,000 stakeholders

The district also said it will post further updates on its website as the 2022-27 strategic planning process continues.

According to the results of the online survey, 871 participants gave their opinion on the online school system. Through this survey, they were able to share what they think are some of the district’s strengths and areas they think the district needs to improve.

Most of the feedback was positive, with attendees focusing on the staff, strong academic programs, and diverse student body that many said was the reason they moved to Forsyth County.

Some comments focused on the pandemic and the school district’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program, which sparked debate last year around the district’s previous strategic plan.

Several participants wrote that there should have been a mask mandate in place at the start of the 2021-22 school year, as COVID-19 cases increased with the introduction of the delta variant. Although the district has implemented COVID-19 precautions, leaders have not imposed a mask mandate on parents or students since the pandemic began.

Others said they appreciated district leaders giving their families the choice to wear a mask or not to wear a mask.

Participants also had the chance to rank a list of priorities for the district in a preferred order of importance.

Nearly 48% of respondents ranked student academic excellence as their top priority, followed by safety and security (38%); recruiting and retaining quality staff (37%); culture of belonging for students, family and staff (26%); student life skills such as financial literacy (24%); operational efficiency such as facilities, technology and transportation (18%); and school district financial efficiency (17%).

In addition to the online survey, selected stakeholders also had the opportunity to participate in three separate focus group sessions. In these groups, they were able to talk more about what they believe to be the district’s strengths, areas for improvement, opportunities and threats.

While strengths and areas for improvement relate directly to the school system, opportunities and threats are positive or negative external forces that impact CFS and student learning.

According to data available on the district’s website, many focus groups agreed on many of these attributes of the school system.

The most agreed upon strengths include:

  • Teachers and highly qualified staff members;

  • Autonomy given to individual schools to create their own curricula and school cultures;

  • The feeling of a small school environment despite FCS being such a large district;

The most agreed upon areas of improvement include:

The most agreed upon opportunities for FCS include:

  • Additional mental health programs to address mental health challenges;

  • Partnerships between the school system and local businesses, non-profit organizations, churches and more;

  • And additional careers and pathways for students who don’t plan on going to college.

The most recognized threats to FCS include:

  • social media;

  • The tremendous growth of the county;

  • The mental health of students, teachers, parents and staff;

  • And an overwhelming workload for teachers.

Once the feedback has been reviewed by the District Planning Committee stakeholders, goals will be created to help reflect the overall feedback.

The goals created will then be reviewed by an Action and Accountability Committee, which will determine action steps and measurable targets to ensure that schools in Forsyth County can achieve these goals.

After further review, the final 2022-27 strategic plan will be presented in May to the Forsyth County School Board for approval.

Louisa R. Loomis