FORSYTH COUNTY -- Parents move their families to Forsyth County for a number of reasons, but among the top are the quality of schools and education in the district, which a recently announced ranking shows is the most financially efficient in the state.
For the second year in a row, Forsyth County Schools has earned the highest financial efficiency rating from the Georgia Department of Education — the five-out-five star rating is the highest and only five-star among metro-Atlanta districts and large districts — more than 7,000 students — in Georgia.
“FCS has the lowest per pupil cost out of the 15 largest school districts in Georgia (attached). The state’s financial efficiency rating is based on a three-year average of per pupil spending in relation to the academic achievement of students,” Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Jeff Bearden said. “Districts can earn one-half to five stars. We are humbled to earn a 5-star rating for the second year. As the only 5-star district in metro-Atlanta and among districts with over 7,000 students in enrollment, we are committed to being good, trustworthy stewards of our tax payers funds.”
The Financial Efficiency Star Rating provides a measure of a local school district’s per-pupil spending in relation to the academic achievements of its students.
It is based on a three-year average of per-pupil spending, which is then associated with the district’s CCRPI score.
Each district receives a rating ranging from one-half to five stars, according to the state education department.
Five stars can be described as having “strong academic outcomes and lower levels of expenditures in comparison with other districts.”
This year’s ratings are based on data from the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years.
“The Financial Efficiency Star Rating helps stakeholders see how districts are using the funds they’ve allotted, providing a baseline for future conversations,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said.
Only 1.1 percent of districts in the state earned a five-star rating, while 4.4 percent earned 4.5 stars, 12.8 percent earned 4 stars, 19.4 percent earned 3.5 stars, 17.2 percent earned 3 stars, 20.6 percent earned 2.5 stars, 12.8 percent earned2 stars, 6.7 percent earned 1.5 stars, 5 percent earned 1 star and no school districts earned .5 stars.
K-12 expenditures included in the calculation were adjusted between the 2015 and 2016 rating, so the two years cannot be compared.
The Georgia Department of Education released with the Financial Efficiency Star Rating school climate star ratings for each school, and 13 schools in Forsyth County received five stars.
“The School Climate Star Rating gives a clear overview of the climate and culture within a school, which is a crucial factor for student success,” Woods said. “The School Climate rating, in particular, has clear ties to student achievement — and to third grade reading, which is a major predictor of students’ later success.”
Statewide, 15 percent of schools earned five stars, 39.8 percent earned four stars, 28.9 percent earned three stars, 11 percent earned two stars and 3.7 percent earned one star — an increase of 3.6 percentage points in the number of schools earning the top rating, according to state data.
Schools were rated based on the “culture” of the school, where “a sustainable, positive school climate fosters youth development and student learning, which are essential elements for academic success, career-skill improvement and overall quality of life.”
Factors included a survey, student discipline, safe and substance-free learning environment and attendance.