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BOE gets input on high school redistricting
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Students at North Forsyth High School fill the halls after school Friday. Overcrowding at it and West Forsyth High have officials considering shifting students to Forsyth Central, which is under capacity. - photo by Autumn Vetter

At a glance

• More information about the school system’s redistricting process can be found at www.forsyth.k12.ga.us/redistricting.

• Feedback can also be submitted online at www.forsyth.k12.ga.us through Monday.

The Forsyth County Board of Education listened to parents’ concerns about proposed shifts in school attendance zones during recent public hearings.

Some residents spoke on their own behalf while others represented their neighborhoods.

A hearing Thursday was the second last week held at Forsyth Central High School. Parents were invited to talk about potential changes to the high school districts, while a Tuesday night session addressed the latest proposal for elementary and middle schools.

The shifts are needed to make room for Kelly Mill Elementary, set to open in August, and to balance high school populations.

The system hopes to better streamline feeder patterns as students move from elementary to middle to high schools. Students slated to go to North and West Forsyth high schools, both over capacity, could be zoned instead for Forsyth Central High, which is less crowded.

“In the south end, we let South Forsyth High School grow to 2,600 kids so when Lambert opened we just split it in half and those kids weren’t bounced around a lot,” board member Nancy Roche said.

She added that the board had hoped to open a new high school this year in east Forsyth, but was unable to because of the sluggish economy.

“So now we’ve had to change our direction and make some different plans,” she said.

Roche said the board will meet later this week to review the proposed changes and make their final decision in about three weeks.

Parents upset with the potential shift said they were concerned about traffic and the distance to Central from their homes. They also were worried their children wouldn’t have time to participate in extracurricular activities.

Parents asked the board to consider the social ramifications for students who would be going to a new high school without their friends.

Wade Yates, who spoke on behalf of the Barrett Downs subdivision, said he thinks the number of students added to the district in the past three years doesn’t represent growth, but is the result of children getting older.

“My biggest concern is that it’s going to take the economy two to three years to turn around,” Yates said. “I don’t want to be standing here again in two or three years getting redistricted again because some kids grew up and went to a different school.”

Davy Bales, who lives on Holtzclaw Road, said the logic behind the redistricting proposal didn’t make sense.

“The only thing that I have found that has to happen this year is to populate Kelly Mill Elementary,” Bales said. “The redistricting of high schools does not have to take place, even though I understand that Central is under populated, that really does not have to take place this year.”

Not everyone who spoke was against the shift.

Lynzi Kyser, who lives in the Coventry subdivision, spoke favorably of the proposed changes.

“Some of my neighbors do not agree with my point of view because I am in support of the new draft,” she said, noting that she thinks there are misconceptions about the distance from her neighborhood to Central.

“It’s 5.5 miles from Coventry to Central and Otwell (middle school) whether you come out our subdivision and turn right and go up Kelly Mill or you turn left and go up Castleberry,” she said. “It takes me 10 minutes from my front door to Central’s carpool line.”

Another parent, Chris Bump, challenged whether some parents were actually just worried about their children going to Central because they thought it wasn’t as good of a school as North or West.

He said his daughter is a student at Central and two people have called him to ask about the school.

“Everybody else gets with their friends that don’t have anybody that goes to Central and that’s when they get around and talk,” he said. “They don’t want to ask anybody and they don’t want to hear the good things, they want to bring up what they think is bad and what they don’t want to do.”

Feedback from the forums, along with input from the school system’s Web site accepted through Monday, will be presented to the school board Thursday.

The board is expected to discuss suggested lines Nov. 10 and vote on the final maps Nov. 17.