Forsyth County School leaders made no changes to the redistricting plans for populating East Forsyth High and Hendricks Middle at a Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 10.
Deputy Superintendent of Schools Joey Pirkle spoke to the board after discussing feedback provided by the community during the district’s two public forums and through the online public survey. He discussed the feedback with school staff members, the principals of the new schools and the principals of existing schools that would be impacted during meetings held over the past week.
Pirkle said that as school leaders and staff reviewed the feedback, they focused on two objectives that the district wanted to accomplish in the redistricting process — to populate the two new schools and to relieve overcrowding in existing schools.
“After discussing the comments and feedback, the staff believes that the current proposal is the best option that will accomplish both of these objectives,” Pirkle said.
While the board agreed with the recommendation, Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden and Board of Education Chairwoman Nancy Roche said they appreciated all of the feedback given by the community. Roche said that, while she has been through many difficult redistricting processes during her 20 years on the board, this year’s process was the easiest.
“This was the easiest one just because parents were so respectful and they gave us lots of ideas,” Roche said.
“But a lot of the questions were, ‘Why do we take so many kids out of West?’ And I think if you look at the maps, you’ll realize that if we hadn’t taken kids out of West, North would have only had 1,500 students,” she said. “And obviously, we couldn’t leave them at that, so we had to take that many students to balance the high schools out and leave 2,000 kids there.”
Bearden also said that, as parents themselves, the board members understand the difficulties of having to switch between schools and the uncertainty of joining a school community that their students may be unfamiliar with.
“One thing I certainly would guarantee any parent in this community is we will do everything in our power to make sure your child is attending a quality school,” Bearden said. “And I know that’s going to happen. Our existing schools are outstanding, and East Forsyth High School and Hendricks Middle School are going to be equally outstanding.”
Board Member Tom Cleveland said that the district will not make other plans to open a new school for some time after 2021 as growth in parts of the county have slowed and the district has planned well for the future.
“I think we’re in a very good place,” Bearden said. “We’ve positioned ourselves for the future. It will be years before we have that conversation again as we look at numbers and projecting years in advance. I just don’t see a need for that.”
The board plans to vote on the recommendation to move forward with the original redistricting plans without any modifications during the next meeting at 6 p.m., on Tuesday, Nov. 17. The meeting will be available to stream online through the Forsyth County Schools YouTube channel.