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Official: Redistricting 'too important not to do right'
Many factors considered in shaping new school zones
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Forsyth County News

Conversation was all over the map during the Forsyth County Board of Education meeting on redistricting.

Future planning, athletic programs, construction bonds, transportation — it appeared nothing was off the table for what could be included in creating new school attendance zones.

"It was crazy," board member Ann Crow said of Thursday night’s meeting. "I thought there was just too much conversation going on and we were going off of all these tangents …

"A lot of it is the discussion we do need to have in planning ahead, but I think in all that conversation, we just kind of lost track of what we were there for."

Though no vote was taken during the meeting, the board gave some direction to staff, including removing high schools from being redistricted.

However, a few items changed Friday, and it appears the board is back to square one — getting more information from staff.

"I stayed up all night worrying about it," Crow said Friday.

She went on to say she called Superintendent Buster Evans and Tom Cleveland, school board chairman.

"We talked back and forth about what we needed … we needed more information," she said.

Evans said the original mission is still in play, with staff working to compile more details for the board.

As stated in the original plan, the redistricting process will focus on three areas:

• Populating Kelly Mill Elementary, slated to open in 2012

• Helping to fill Forsyth Central High, currently under-capacity by nearly 730 students

• Improving feeder patterns to keep students together as they transition between elementary to middle to high school.

"That is what we still feel is our charge and our mission," Evans said.

"We want to provide good information that helps the board make a good decision, albeit a difficult decision, that best represents the interest of students throughout the district."

Possible sources from which to draw students for Kelly Mill include Cumming, Sawnee and Vickery Creek elementary schools, all of which are crowded, as well as Whitlow Elementary.

To bring students to the under-populated Forsyth Central, Evans said staff likely will look to two or three existing high schools.

According to system numbers, North Forsyth is over capacity by nearly 190 students.

North is followed by Lambert, which is 103 students over, and West Forsyth at 82. South Forsyth is about 60 students under capacity.

One theme that remained constant was making sure to get input from the public and staff.

"We look at numbers," Cleveland said Thursday. "They’re the eyes and ears at the school to tell us what impact [they feel]."

The board will reconvene Sept. 8 to receive more information from staff and make recommendations on how best to proceed with the process.

Friday, Cleveland emphasized that officials don’t "like to move people."

"People like where they’re at," he said. "We don’t do it just for fun. For us, it’s all about running the system as efficiently and effectively as possible in trying to meet the needs of the student.

"This is too important not to do right."