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Attendance zones to shift
System readies for 'emotional process'
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Forsyth County News

Other action

Also Thursday, the Forsyth County Board of Education:

• Reviewed the timeline and communication plan for the 2012-13 school calendar.
The first draft will be presented to local school councils Sept. 12, followed by cabinet members, principals and then the board on Oct. 13.

Online feedback will be collected Oct. 14-28. The final version will be presented to the school board Nov. 10, with a vote set for a week later.

• Approved a five-year strategic partnership with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to become the district’s private partner for the i3 grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The federal grant required a 20 percent financial match of more than $960,000 from a private partner as the system works with it to develop an integrated learning system.

The program, Engage Me PLEASE (Personalized Learning Experiences Accelerate Standards-based Education), will connect student information, assessment and content, making it all accessible to parents, students and teachers.

— Jennifer Sami

With just seven days of classes under its belt, the Forsyth County school system has begun making plans for next year.

The scheduled opening of Kelly Mill Elementary School in August 2012 means some students must shift districts.

During a meeting Thursday night, the school board was presented with a plan that focuses on three different areas, beginning with elementary schools.

To relieve overcrowding, the district will look at Cumming, Sawnee, Vickery Creek and Whitlow elementary schools.

Daves Creek, Johns Creek and Sharon elementary will also be reviewed for attendance lines to balance the student population.

North Forsyth High School, which is over capacity, will likely also get some relief in the redistricting process.

Initial plans call for moving some students from North to Forsyth Central High, which is below capacity by nearly 740 students.

While those mentioned stand to see the most change, officials said no schools are off limits when it comes to redistricting.

In fact, the third goal of the process is to improve the current feeder patterns to keep students together as they move from elementary to middle and then high school.

“The goal certainly is to keep students together as much as possible,” said Joey Pirkle, associate superintendent of educational leadership. “Sometimes that can be a difficult task, as you know, as we’ve grown to the point where … it becomes difficult now with the number of schools we have.”

Pirkle presented the board with the timeline for redistricting, which culminates with a board vote Nov. 17.

First up in the process will be a special meeting, set for 4 p.m. Aug. 25, to discuss how to handle students affected by the changes.

Previously, rising seniors who were being redistricted could choose to stay at their current high school, as long as they could provide their own transportation.

The school board will discuss whether to keep that policy or to allow a variation.

One possibility could be a gradual approach, allowing all students enrolled in high school this year to stay put.

For the next step, system staff will meet with the principals who will be affected by the shifts in attendance zones.

On Sept.8, the board will be presented with the first draft of the proposed new lines.

There will be a Sept. 12 meeting with local school councils for feedback, followed by an Oct. 13 presentation of a second draft to the board.

The community will be asked for online feedback on the second draft between Oct. 17 and 31.

An elementary school public hearing is set for Oct. 25 and a high school public hearing Oct. 27.

The third and final draft will be presented to the board Nov. 3 for any changes prior to the Nov. 17 deadline.

Nancy Roche, the longest serving member on the board, is no stranger to the redistricting process.

She noted how important it is for parents to get involved, to talk to their local school councils and to submit online feedback.

“We had a thousand of them last time and we went through every single one,” she said of the 2009 redistricting process.

“It’s so important for us to … really know what to do so we don’t all go in different directions. It’s just such a very emotional process.”