Also during Thursday’s meeting, the Forsyth County Board of Education:
Adopted the 2016-17 school calendar.
Highlights include a weeklong fall break that debuted this year and a shifted winter break that will begin Dec. 21, with students returning to school on Jan. 5.
To view the calendar visit Forsyth.k12.ga.us.
-- Kayla Robins
FORSYTH COUNTY — Final attendance zones for two new public schools set to open in fall 2016 were approved Thursday night, to the dismay of parents who packed the Forsyth County Board of Education’s meeting room.
Redistricting was necessary to populate Brandywine Elementary and DeSana Middle schools, both of which are under construction between McFarland Parkway, Union Hill Road and Hwy. 9. A third school, Denmark High, is also being built.
“It was a very extensive process because we know it’s very important and impacts a lot of families,” said Jennifer Caracciolo, spokeswoman for the school system.
The board voted 3-1 to adopt the second draft of two revisions brought by a committee that reviewed all aspects of redistricting, from transportation and enrollment numbers to funding and neighborhoods subject to previous rezonings.
Also approved was an amendment to the draft that retained the subdivisions of Windhaven, Brandywine and Braemoor, along with homes scattered along Old Alpharetta Road, in their current schools — Big Creek Elementary and Piney Grove Middle.
The vote for the amendment was 4-0 in favor, with District 5’s Nancy Roche absent due to a death in the family.
Kristin Morrissey, whose District 2 covers south Forsyth and the parents who have opposed moving schools, made the motion for the amendment. However, she ultimately voted against the final lines.
Morrissey asked district staff if the lines could be revisited after the opening year concludes, noting that students may be able to go back to their current schools if growth covers the numbers.
Joey Pirkle, deputy superintendent of schools, said that has never been done before but the board has the liberty to place the discussion on any agenda.
Morrissey has voiced concerns throughout the process relating to growth in the area, stating that future building should bring the number of students needed to fill the schools.
A base of 750 students is needed for a middle school to receive full state funding, and retaining every subdivision that spoke out against the maps would put DeSana under that threshold and Piney Grove topping 100 percent capacity.
Lines cannot be drawn over the summer because other processes must take place well before doors open in August.
“Hiring for school systems is January and on … and we really want to get the very best candidates for those positions,” Caracciolo said.
The district has begun accepting internal applications for educators and staff who want to be involved in the opening of a new school, which “you don’t get to do in a lot of school systems,” Caracciolo said.
“We have excellent principals in place to open up these two new schools. They’re veteran principals. Terri North, who is opening up DeSana, is our opener for the school system,” she said. “Many of the people who do not want to leave Piney Grove, a lot of it was because of [her].”
She added that Todd Smith, who is set to be the first principal for Brandywine, “led Midway [Elementary] to be one of the very first family-friendly schools for Title-I schools in Georgia.”
Ten schools will be impacted by the new attendance zones.
Homes that are zoned for the new schools will be notified by mail, and parents will also be alerted via other systems.
Students and parents zoned for Brandywine and DeSana will be invited to clubhouse chats and meetings at the new campuses over the summer.