Forsyth County schools brace for student growth

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — As the county continues to attract more families, Forsyth County School System officials are bracing for the growth in students, especially in the southern part of the county.

Tim Amerson, facilities planner for Forsyth County Schools, said state averages say the county will average 1,612 new students per year over the next five years.

“We are the fastest growing county in Georgia, according to Forbes Magazine,” Amerson said.

Amerson said the state looks at current enrollment to come up with the forecast as well as an average of the last five years.

“[The Ga. Dept. of Education] compare us to the 180 systems to see how much money they can allocate in building new classrooms, replacing roofs and slight modifications,” Amerson told Forsyth County Planning Commissioners in October.

Forsyth’s school system from the 2007-08 school year gained 1,720 students. From 2008-09, it gained 1,839 students, and then the number of new students began to drop in 2009-10 to 1,643 students. The Stock Market crash affected the 2010-11 school year with a greater drop at 1,353 students.

Last school year, the number of students enrolled began to jump back up to 1,612 students.

“We saw these numbers slide down and we see a tick back up in our numbers,” Amerson said.

While redistricting has taken place to alleviate some of the overcrowding, new schools are in the works to increase student capacity.

Architectural design started on Elementary School No. 14, out on Martin Drive south of McFarland Parkway. School construction is slated to start next year. The new elementary school will help relieve overcrowding at Vickery Creek, Midway and Shiloh Point primarily.

A new 71-classroom elementary school would take about 15 months to complete.

A new Middle School No. 10 has also been identified for James Road near Union Hill. Funding requests will go out in August and the application approval is expected completed in the spring of 2015. A new middle school takes about 18 months to build.

A new high school in the southwest area of the county, near the Midway area is also being proposed because of overcrowding at South and West Forsyth.

A new high school location has not been secured.

Lambert will get an additional 21 classrooms and North Forsyth will need an additional 20 classrooms and cafeteria.

“All high schools will be at or overcapacity when we do this,” said Amerson.