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Officials: Transportation, personnel not affected by district lines
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Forsyth County News

Two department heads told the Forsyth County Board of Education on Wednesday that redistricting brings little change to their day-to-day operations.

Garry Puetz, the school system's director of transportation, and Candy Norton, director of human resources, explained that new district lines will affect students more than their departments.

In a large school district like Forsyth's, Puetz said, traffic congestion will always be an obstacle, regardless of redistricting.

"Our needs are really the least important in terms of redistricting," Puetz said.

"On average, on any given school day, during route time, we're either picking up or dropping off 100 students every minute. It's a lot of kids, it's a lot of traffic, and we try to route that.

"We can take any student, from any location, from any school, and make it work. In terms of redistricting, transportation tries to stay to the back and do what's right for the kids and what's right for the school system."

Parents have argued that the proposed new district lines -- needed to accommodate the five new schools the system plans to open in 2009-10 -- create inefficient bus routes and waste money by busing thousands of children to schools that are farther away.

Board member Tom Cleveland asked, on behalf of neighborhoods divided by draft lines, how efficient it would be to have two busses going down the same street.

Puetz said that it wouldn't be less resourceful than sending one bus down the same street and driving the students to two different schools.

Like Puetz, Norton said redistricting doesn't change her staffing routine much, except for the amount of programs offered.

The main thing redistricting changes, she said, is that fewer programs might be offered at schools that are new, or have a dip in population. She also tries to hire enough teachers to cover student activities, such as coaches.

"Regardless, if you have a high school with 2,800 or 2,900 students and you open a high school with 1,200 students, and you leave 1,600 at the other school, regardless of what the system might do, you're going to have fewer curriculum offerings," Norton said.

General considerations, she said, include the number of students per grade level, peak enrollment and program needs, such as the number of special needs or English as a second language students.

"I also look at student activities," Norton said. "I look at mock trial, math team, academic bowl, athletics," she said. "Those are also what we need to have in terms of critical masters staffing needs because our community expects all of those programs or some level of those programs."

The school system has been in limbo with redistricting for the past several months. Throughout the process, school officials have drawn four district drafts for the 2009-10 school year.

A final draft may not be approved until September, at the earliest.