He said the purpose of groups is not to solve problems or debate whether a topic is a strength or a weakness.
âWe’re here to gather opinions and gather feedback so that we can put it all together,â Barker said.
Groups were given 12 minutes for each section of the SWOT analysis to talk to each other and write their thoughts on large blocks of paper. After each section, the facilitators collected the papers and displayed them in the hallways.
At the end of the last group, participants had the opportunity to walk down the hall and see everyone’s comments. As they reviewed what the other groups had written, each member was able to use three circular stickers to note the comments they considered most important for district leaders to consider.
The groups started by looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the system – internal attributes that the district currently has in place that are working well or could be improved.
Some strong points of FCS on which many have agreed:
â Social and emotional learning programs;
â The autonomy given to each school to meet its own needs;
â Strong involvement of parents;
â Quality staff;
â And quality facilities.
Areas that many agreed FCSs could work on:
â Its current shortage of bus drivers;
â A lack of programs geared towards the average Forsyth County student;
â Lack of community feedback opportunities.
Next, the groups moved on to examine the opportunities and threats in the district, which are external factors that could have a negative or positive impact on the work done by the school system.
Opportunities discussed included:
â The possible impact of the upcoming sales tax on local special education options, or E-SPLOST;
â Diversity continues in the county and the school system;
â And an opportunity to review the current diversity, equity and inclusion plan.
When it came to discussing external threats, each of the groups pointed to the rapid population growth in Forsyth County, which has led to overcrowding in schools in recent years. They also each spoke about the impact of the pandemic not only on academics but also on the mental health of children, parents and staff.
Going forward, the district will host two additional focus group sessions at Alliance Academy on Monday November 1 and Monday November 8.
In January, a planning committee will review feedback from the focus group sessions and the online survey and refine some of the residents’ top wishes for the community.
âThis will be a very important piece of data that we will use because we are looking at the goals and performance targets for the next five years at schools in Forsyth County,â Jackson said.
Using this information, the committee will review the district’s current missions and values ââbefore moving on to the strategic planning process.
For more information, visit the FCS website at www.forsyth.k12.ga.us.