• Tonight’s public hearing begins at 7 p.m. in Forsyth Central High School’s auditorium.
• Feedback can also be submitted online at www.forsyth.k12.ga.us through Oct. 31.
• More information about the school system’s redistricting process can be found at www.forsyth.k12.ga.us/redistricting.
Officials heard from representatives of more than a dozen neighborhoods during a hearing Tuesday night about proposed shifts to school attendance zones.
The session was held at Forsyth Central High Central for subdivisions affected by the latest proposal for elementary and middle schools.
A second hearing is scheduled tonight, also at Central, for those families impacted by potential changes to the high school districts.
The tentative maps were presented to the Board of Education earlier this month.
The shifts are needed to make room for Kelly Mill Elementary School, which is set to open in August, and to balance high school populations.
The system hopes to better streamline feeder patterns as students move from elementary to middle to high schools.
About 200 people attended Tuesday’s hearing, many dressed in similar colors to show support for their communities.
School board chairman Tom Cleveland thanked everyone for coming and airing their concerns.
"We know it takes a lot of time out of your normal day to come out and we appreciate it," he said.
Cleveland explained that subdivisions addressing the board as a unit would be allotted 10 minutes to speak, while those speaking as individuals had five minutes.
Several subdivisions presented the board with petitions signed by residents. Some also brought large signs or packets of information for officials to review.
Most of the complaints centered on longer distances between current schools and the ones proposed for the 2012-13 year.
"It’s more than 9 miles to take our kids to Otwell [Middle] and Central [High], while it’s [less than 3 miles] to take our kids to Vickery Creek Middle and West Forsyth High School," said Coventry resident Tina Robbins.
"With gas and bus maintenance costs, it just doesn’t make sense to drive that much farther."
Kim Bishop, who lives in Hampton’s Grant subdivision, echoed those sentiments.
"Safety due to the longer distance is a concern," she said, noting her subdivision is slated to shift from Vickery Creek Middle to Liberty Middle. "And it’s a significant distance to have to travel."
Some speakers pointed to emotional reasons for wanting their students to stay put.
"This will have a negative impact on our community," said Ashbrooke resident Mike Brown. "Pulling our children from their [current] extracurricular activities is a problem."
Added Westbrook resident Shelly Smith: "My daughter said, ‘This is the only school I know and all the friends I have are here.’"
Others questioned the board’s numbers is figuring school capacities under the proposed changes.
"This plan doesn’t live up to the quality of this board [of education]," said Sliver Leaf resident Brad Wilkins. "There’s been no growth in the city of Cumming, and we don’t expect any growth around the city of Cumming, but the area around West Forsyth [High School] will continue to grow.
"We need a better solution to fill up schools in areas that aren’t growing."
Feedback from the forums tonight and Tuesday, along with input from the school system’s Web site accepted through Oct. 31, will be presented to the school board Nov. 3.
The board is slated to discuss suggested lines on Nov. 10 and vote on the final maps Nov. 17.