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Possible school changes detailed
Board studies shifts in attendance zones
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Forsyth County News

At a glance




Schools impacted in first draft of map:



Elementary: Chattahoochee, Coal Mountain, Cumming, Sawnee, Vickery Creek and Whitlow



Middle: Liberty, Little Mill, North Forsyth, Otwell, Vickery Creek


High: Forsyth Central, North Forsyth, West Forsyth



• Review the maps and data online at




Source: Forsyth County Schools














The first draft of school redistricting maps shows shifts focused in north and west Forsyth, leaving the county’s southern end untouched.


District staff members presented data and maps to the Forsyth County Board of Education during a Thursday work session.


The system must redraw attendances zones for elementary schools to make way for the Kelly Mill Elementary, which is set to open for the 2012-13 year.


The maps also reflect moving students from overcapacity North Forsyth and West Forsyth high schools to Forsyth Central, which is more than 700 students under capacity.


“We also looked at tweaking some feeder pattern issues,” said Joey Pirkle, associate superintendent. “If we had a middle school feeding three high schools or an elementary school feeding several middle schools, those are the kinds of things we [reviewed].”


Staff began by using an algorithm to determine the county’s best configuration for efficiency, he said, and then took into account what’s practical to change.


“We did look at this as a group based on what’s best for the system,” Pirkle said. “Sometimes what’s best for all the students may not be what’s most convenient for any single person.”


Board member Ann Crow said the process will allow the school system to continue operating efficiently while weathering the financial storm.


“We have to look at maximizing our facilities,” Crow said. “There is no way we can build schools. The money is not there.”


Board member Nancy Roche agreed that money to build relief schools may not come for several years. She also pointed to the discrepancies in projected high school enrollments.


“If we do nothing with Central, Central will be sitting at almost 1,000 kids less than North,” said Roche, adding that the latter’s campus can’t accommodate that many more students.


In those projected numbers, staff estimated the difference in immediate redrawing of the lines versus giving rising 10th-through 12th-graders the option to stay at their current school.


Board members voted 5-0 to allow an out-of-district option for current high schoolers to stay put, but they must provide their own transportation.


Rising fifth- and eighth-graders affected by the changes would also receive that option.


Board member Darla Light said students, especially in high school, have many investments and ties to their campus.


“I’m not against redistricting, but I am against redistricting at the expense of kids who are already in school,” said Light, in support of the out-of-district option.


Next up, the system plans to bring the information to the councils of the affected schools.


A second draft map will then be produced and opened to the public for feedback, which will include two public hearings in October.


The board is expected to approve the final map in November.


“The key message here is these are drafts,” said Tom Cleveland, board chairman. “We’re going to listen to the input.”


Board members also received an in-depth presentation on the specific changes made in the first draft, which can be reviewed on the district’s Web site.


At the elementary level, it calls for some students from crowded Cumming, Sawnee and Vickery Creek to move to the Kelly Mill.


Bryan Carlisle of the facilities department explained that “geographical constraints” caused most Kelly Mill students to be pulled in a corridor heading west from the school.


In looking at feeder patterns, some Cumming students could be moved to Sawnee, which would send students to just two middle schools.


“That allowed us to back-feed to Sawnee from Coal Mountain,” Carlisle said.


At the middle school level, some attendance zone shifts were proposed to ensure students feed to just one or two high schools.


Affected schools include: Liberty, Little Mill, North Forsyth, Otwell and Vickery Creek.


High school zone changes proposed would move residents around Shady Grove and Spot roads from North High to Central.


Almost all of those living east of Bethelview Road in the West High attendance zone would shift to Central.