FORSYTH COUNTY - A central component of the redistricting process for Forsyth’s County’s new middle school was detailed for the Board of Education on Thursday afternoon.
Consequences of an argument to appease hundreds of parents in neighborhoods falling within the proposed boundary lines for DeSana Middle School by retaining them all at their current schools – either Vickery Creek or Piney Grove middle schools – was based on a minimum number of students needed at any middle school to provide a full range of classes.
The work session was conducted after a second round of public feedback was given online and two public forums were held on the draft maps for DeSana and Brandywine Elementary School, both of which are scheduled to open in fall 2016 between McFarland Parkway, Union Hill Road and Hwy. 9.
The base number is 750 students to open a middle school, said Cindy Salloum, associate superintendent of human resources and legal services for Forsyth County Schools.
That number will provide enough students to form the amount of connections classes – physical education, band, art, drama, etc. – as every other school in the county.
“In a seven-period schedule, you have five academic classes and two connection classes,” Salloum said. “You may need a teacher to teach higher-level math or remediation. Seven-fifty is the bottom to do what you need to do for every level child.”
She said having 850 or more students enrolled is ideal to provide community-specific options.
Dipping down to 600 would mean teachers having to give instruction on multiple levels at the same time, “more like a junior high model than a middle school model.”
Parents have voiced concerns that many of their students were already redistricted two years ago to relieve overcrowding at Midway Elementary School and that DeSana is too far outside of their community to allow for ease in making new friends and participating in afterschool activities.
With the second of three redistricting maps on the table, DeSana would open with 807 students, or at 78 percent capacity.
Piney Grove would begin the year with 890 students, or 86 percent capacity.
Those numbers do not include eighth-grade students and their siblings who are allowed to remain at their current school for one year.
Salloum noted the smaller the number of students attending DeSana, the higher probability there is of having multiple grades populate the same halls, which she said has worried parents in the past.
“We cannot leave a school below a functioning level,” said Ann Crow, BOE member for District 1.
BOE Chairwoman Darla Light (District 4) said students at DeSana should have the same classes and opportunities as other middle schools in the county.
“From what I’ve heard, it would be three years and about $1 million to staff it at 60 percent,” she said, citing future growth projections for the southwestern portion of Forsyth.
Kristin Morrissey, District 2 BOE member, said she understands the concerns of the parents who want to stay in their current schools.
“If I had my choice, we would keep everyone and pay the extra money for a year or year and a half,” she said, “and the development would take care of it.”
The board will approve the final lines on Nov. 19 after a presentation and discussion of the third draft on Nov. 12.