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Comments could sway district lines
Board considers shifts in school attendance zones
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Forsyth County News

The Forsyth County school system's redistricting process is down to the tweaking stage.

School board members on Thursday zeroed in on several of the many public comments received on the most recent draft of the proposed attendance zones.

No changes were made to the current and sixth draft of the map. But some alterations may be made at the Oct. 16 meeting, the date the final draft is due.

The window for parent input on the district's Web site closed Oct. 3, leaving board members less than a week to review feedback.

The school system is currently redistricting for the 2009-10 school year, when it plans to open five new schools, including one middle, one high and three elementary schools.

Board chairwoman Nancy Roche said the nearly 500 comments received were broken down into about 60 categories based on location and school.

Those garnering the most attention at Thursday's meeting included the redistricting of some Cumming Elementary students to Mashburn Elementary.

Others involved moving children from the Barrett Downs area to Otwell Middle and Forsyth Central instead of Vickery Middle and West Forsyth, and sending rising ninth-graders from the Chattahoochee River Club neighborhood to South Forsyth High instead of the new Lambert High.

"They were hoping to go to Lambert with the rest of their friends," Roche said. "It's separating all those rising ninth-graders from the kids they've been with since kindergarten and putting them into South Forsyth, where they know no one."

Roche said in future years "it will be fine because all of Chattahoochee will stay together and go on to South," but this particular group could be affected.

The board also eyed some Cumming Elementary students who could be moved to Mashburn.

"Cumming is overcrowded," said board member Ann Crow. "And Mashburn only had 487 kids. It didn't make sense to leave Cumming overcrowded and Mashburn with at least a better percentage [of students]."

Another group the board addressed was the Barrett Downs area, where a switch to Otwell and Central is being considered over staying at Vickery and West.

Board member Mike  Dudgeon said there was a "tremendous amount of feedback" from this area. Roche agreed.

"We got a lot of complaints that they started at Vickery Middle, had to leave all their friends and they didn't want to have to do that again," she said.

Dudgeon gave the group a pat on the back for its efforts thus far.

"The board is doing a good job of trying our best to look not just at 2009, but to look even further into the future," he said.

Vice Chairman Tom Cleveland suggested that in a future meeting the board conduct a "post-mortem of redistricting. Look at the good, the bad and the ugly and talk about next time and say how we'd like to do it."