The first draft of new boundary lines for public schools zoning in Forsyth County has been released that will populate Denmark High Schools, which is on track to open next fall in southwest Forsyth.
South Forsyth, Lambert and West Forsyth high schools will have students shifted around, either to the new campus on Mullinax Road or to an existing school, all of which will also be relieved from the overcrowded numbers they are already experiencing.
“Looking at your current enrollment numbers right [without Denmark], and these are rough numbers, South is at 3,500, Lambert is at 3,000, and West is at 2,700,” Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Jeff Bearden said Tuesady at a Board of Education work session, where the draft was presented for the first time.
If this first draft stands, 226 students will be moved to Denmark from West and 1,564 will become Danes instead of War Eagles at South.
To fill in some of the gap left by that chunk moving from South to Denmark, the redistricting committee recommended moving 389 students from Lambert to South.
According to Joey Pirkle, deputy superintendent of schools, it is projected each of the six brick-and-mortar high schools — including Denmark — will lose about 100 students to the Alliance Academy for Innovation of Cumming-Forsyth County, an alternative public high schools also set to open August 2018.
Denmark’s zoning boundaries, to the south start where Mathis Airport Parkway and Peachtree Parkway meet, roughly, and go north toward the intersection of Castleberry Road and Bethelview Road, except for a triangular jut that surrounds the bottom of Ronald Reagan Boulevard.
The northern boundary is the same as DeSana Middle School’s zoning line, making the middle school a 100 feeder pattern to Denmark, which was a goal of the board all along, said Nancy Roche, District 5 board member.
“And Vickery [Elementary] stays Vickery [Middle, all of which will still go to West],” Roche said.
With the Lambert-to-South move, South is poised to take in some neighborhoods south of Windermere Parkway and easy of Old Atlanta Road.
West was not affected as much, Pirkle said, because the committee kept in mind future growth in the south and north ends of the county and the remaining build-out of East Forsyth High School in the not-so-near-future.
With these new lines, West is set to open with 2,405 students, Lambert with 2,585 and South with 2,436. All three schools’ capacities are 2,400 students.
“South is the most overcrowded,” District 2 BOE member Kristin Morrissey said. “This will, not totally, but it will greatly reduce the number of portables, and we’d rather invest in instruction because we don’t get state money for portables.”
Denmark, which will not have a senior class its first year, is projected to open with 1,690 students out of its eventual 2,500-student capacity.
“Denmark is absolutely essential for our school system. We must have it. But, obviously, we must populate that school, as well,” Bearden said. “We all understand it’s a really tough decision and will not be a popular decision, but we just invested $80 million in Denmark High School, and we have to populate that school. And we have to populate it with enough students that we offer a similar experience as our other high school kids get at all our other traditional high schools.”
Elementary schools shift in north Forsyth
When the redistricting committee sat down to redraw high school lines in south Forsyth, they also took the opportunity to examine uneven numbers in north Forsyth elementary schools.
Silver City Elementary was over capacity while neighboring Chattahoochee and Chestatee elementary schools are not, so the committee redrew boundaries to move 358 students from Silver City to Chestatee and 122 from Chestatee to Chattahoochee to even out numbers.
With these projections, Silver City would open with 1,067 students, Chestatee at 1,209 students and Chattahoochee 902.
“We’ve had a lot of concern. We’ve had a lot of approved zonings in that area,” Morrissey said.
That would put Silver City at 92.7 percent capacity and Chestatee over by only 34 kids, Pirkle said.
“Since we have seats, it’s the right thing to do,” said Darla Light, who represents the area in District 4. “You have to fill the seats you have before you start filling others.”
Officials noted this is only the first draft. The maps are available to view online or at the affected high schools and middle schools that feed into them, and feedback is welcomed until Sept. 27.
On Oct. 10, the committee will present the BOE with the second draft that may include any possible changes based on feedback.
On Oct. 17, the BOE will approve a second draft.
A public forum will be held on Oct. 23 for elementary school redistricting only at North Forsyth High School at 6 p.m.
A high school redistricting public forum will be held at West at 6 p.m. on Oct. 24.
The final draft will be approved in November, ahead of the Dec. 1-Jan. 19 window where out of district forms will be accepted.