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Board tinkers with maps for redistricting
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Forsyth County News

Plans for redistricting have some Forsyth County elementary school parents wondering where the line is drawn when it comes to moving their children around.

But there may be some relief for high school students affected by the changes, which are needed to accommodate the five new schools slated to open next fall. They include one middle, one high and three elementary schools.

The Forsyth County Board of Education spent Thursday night in another round of discussion on changes to the 2009-10 redistricting map.

The board voted 5-0 to approve a measure allowing ninth-graders at existing high schools to stay at their schools rather than changing to a new school.

Specifically, the rule applies to freshmen at Forsyth Central who will be redistricted to South Forsyth and those students at South and West being redistricted to Central.

Board Chairwoman Nancy Roche said parents will be required to file a completed out-of-district form for students who want to stay at their current schools.

Parents also will be responsible for their transportation.

"Students redistricted to Lambert High School will not have the option to remain at their current high school unless they're in a program need and the out of district is approved by the high school principals," Roche said.

Those students and their families would also be responsible for their own transportation.

Board member Tom Cleveland attempted to amend the measure to include eighth-graders "so they would have a chance to re-establish their community before going to high school."

The amendment failed for lack of majority approval. Roche, Ann Crow and Ronnie Pinson voted against it.

The vote was taken at the end of a lengthy discussion and after the approval of changes to district lines that will be reflected on the fifth draft of the redistricting map.

Maps showing current and proposed district lines have been posted online and will be available Monday to view at schools.

The board is giving parents and others with concerns about the changes a chance to give input before the final draft is approved Oct. 16.

The board unanimously approved several changes to the fourth draft of the redistricting plan.

Those changes include a measure to move students in the Avington subdivision in south Forsyth to Brookwood Elementary, South Forsyth Middle and Lambert High Schools in 2009.

Students in that neighborhood moved from Big Creek Elementary to Sharon Elementary last year.

Until Thursday night, they were slated to move back to Big Creek next year.

Melissa Sheppard lives in Avington. Her two daughters will be among those who will have gone from Big Creek to Sharon to Brookwood if the changes are approved in the final draft.

"My opinion is, and of course I'm not an education expert, is that bouncing the kids back and forth, that's not doing them very good as far as their social development and their educational development because they get comfortable in a school and children have routines and everything else," she said.

Sheppard said all the moving around is "excessive" and she worries the children in Avington are being treated as "beans to be counted."

She said officials have explained that keeping the 50 children in Avington at Sharon would overpopulate the school. But she doesn't see how 50 students would make that big of a difference.

Sheppard said the changes also affect the sense of community around the schools.

"As a parent, how am I supposed to feel that I should support my school through the PTA ... or get to know anything about the administration at the school if there is a possibility that I'm going to get yanked out and put somewhere else?" she said.

The board also unanimously agreed to redraw lines moving about 11 students in 2009 who currently attend Sharon Elementary School and were expected to move to Big Creek Elementary back to Sharon.

The board did not change district lines in the Windermere area.

Dudgeon said he spent several hours trying to rework numbers to keep students in the community at the same schools.

"I think it's unfortunate that we'll have to move forward with leaving Windermere split," he said.

"I don't like it. It bothers me, but because of where the schools physically are we really don't have a choice."

According to the new district lines, students in that area will be split between Daves Creek and Haw Creek elementary schools.