As Forsyth County continues to grow, so too does the school system, which is expected to reach the 50,000 enrollment mark in the next two years.
At a Board of Education called meeting during its annual retreat Monday, Director of Facilities Planning Tim Amerson said based on a five-year projection plan, Forsyth County Schools will have more than 50,000 students enrolled during the 2018-19 school year.
Currently, FCS serves about 46,300 students.
“We’re picking up speed,” Amerson said. “Our average growth rate is running about 4.2 percent a year.”
With the projected increases in enrollment, by 2021, more than 56,000 students will attend public schools and a significant number of schools are expected to be over capacity, Amerson said.
This school year, just less than half, or 17, of the county’s 36 brick-and-mortar schools are over capacity.
By 2021, even with the addition of two new high schools in 2018, nearly three-quarters of schools, or 28, will be over capacity.
The projected numbers are even based on a slowing growth rate.
“I tried to follow the [rate] with about a 10 percent decrease [yearly,]” Amerson said. “Four-point-two percent growth next year, then 4.1 then 3.9 … that’s the schedule. As the number becomes bigger, that 1,800 [yearly] student growth is a smaller percentage of that bigger number.”
The schools at each level expected to have the largest number of students in 2021 are Silver City Elementary School, which will be 34 percent over capacity, Lakeside Middle School, which will be 35 percent over capacity and Forsyth Central High School, which will be 24 percent over capacity.
Also by 2021, The Alliance Academy for Innovation of Cumming-Forsyth County — an alternative college and career academy high school — and Denmark High School are expected to hold 1,200 and 2,500 students, respectively — representing maximum capacity for the Alliance Academy and 1.68 percent under capacity for Denmark.
The Alliance Academy is under construction in Cumming on Lanier 400 Parkway, and Denmark is being built in southwest Forsyth on Mullinax Road.
Currently, Silver City, Lakeside and South Forsyth High School hold the most number of students per institution type.
Based on the number of currently enrolled students, next year, high schools will see the most gains in number of students — adding 681 pupils, Amerson said.
This is because of the large number of current eighth graders.
While middle schools will keep close to the same number of students, the county’s elementary schools will lose 401 students.
“After looking at the enrollment trends and five-year projections, [we have] proposed additions for new construction,” said Bill McKnight, chief facilities officer for the district.
The additions include a possible East Forsyth High School, for which land has already been purchased, and potential new middle and elementary schools.
McKnight said a performing arts center for all the schools to use has also been discussed, though no plans have been set.