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Board pins down draft of school lines
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Forsyth County News

The Forsyth County Board of Education on Tuesday approved what could be the final change in the redistricting map for the 2009-10 school year.

The decision, approved by a 5-0 vote, will shift about 150 children who would otherwise attend Cumming Elementary to Mashburn Elementary.

In doing so, Mashburn will be at 85.4 percent capacity and Cumming will be at 94.4 percent capacity, according to school system projections.

Had the change not been made, Mashburn would have been at 65.1 percent capacity, and Cumming would have been overflowing, at 108.5 percent capacity.

The school system is currently redistricting for the next school year, when it plans to open five new schools, including one middle, one high and three elementary schools.

The potential overflow of students at Cumming Elementary would had to have been housed in portable buildings, which are funded through property taxes.

The 19 trailers that would have been would have each cost $10,200 annually. Utilities for trailers run about $1,200 a year, versus the $423 annually it costs in a classroom.

Between utilities and trailer rental, the decision to relieve Cumming Elementary will save the school system an excess of $208,000.

Nancy Roche, chairwoman of the school board, said parents affected by the decision will be receiving a "letter so they will get a heads up so they will know what's going on so they will have some time for input."

The school system Web site has offered an open forum throughout the redistricting process, allowing parents to comment on the changes.

The board has used the comments to make changes to each of the five previous drafts of the redistricting map. Three public forums have also been held through the redistricting process.

"We've taken feedback and incorporated it, if feasible, into the map, or we've responded as to why we can't incorporate that feedback," said Jennifer Caracciolo, school system spokeswoman.

"To put it in perspective, I have had more people give me feedback to name the new [elementary] school ... than for redistricting."

Over the process, fewer comments have been made. The first and second drafts of the map garnered 473 and 494 comments respectively.

The numbers for the fourth and fifth map dropped substantially, to 219 and 203. In the 24-hour span leading up to Tuesday's meeting, the district had received more than 300 responses on naming the new school.

The board will meet again in an Oct. 9 work session to review comments received through Oct. 3.

"We go through it. When we come back for our work session, we will be going through every single line item, all the concerns," Roche said. "We've done that three or four times now. We go through ever single one to make sure we do everything we can."