FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Forsyth County School Board members rolled up their sleeves Nov. 2 and dug into the proposed 2018 redistricting map.
The board went neighborhood by neighborhood considering possible changes, agreeing to move the area along the northwestern side of Mathis Airport Parkway to Lambert High School. With 71 projected high school students, it includes the subdivisions of Avington, Mathis Airpark, Lakeview at Laurel Springs, Gates of Luberon and Oak Ridge Farms, with one small individual parcel at the corner of Bagley Road.
One of the most talked about neighborhoods, Three Chimney Farms, is across the street from Lambert, but is redistricted to South Forsyth High School. The option to keep the neighborhood at Lambert was considered at length, but ultimately the board voted to keep it on its proposed path to South Forsyth.
The board will adopt the final map at 6 p.m., Nov. 14.
Board Chairwoman Kristin Morrissey said a large portion of the redistricting is being carried out to populate its newest school, Denmark High School, which is opening next fall. Other considerations include relieving overcrowding at Lambert, South Forsyth and West Forsyth high schools.
The board has fielded multiple questions asking why more students from West Forsyth High School aren’t being redistricted to Denmark.
Deputy Superintendent of Schools Joey Pirkle, who has been heading the process, said the district looks into the next four to five years with the proposed opening of East Forsyth High School.
“We knew when that high school opens, then we’d have to go back and take the top portion of the West Forsyth district to make the shift over to these high schools,” Pirkle said. “We also looked at going farther north to take students. That created a feeder pattern issue.”
Vice Chairwoman Nancy Roche said she’s heard a lot of discussion from the public that the district’s numbers are not correct.
She said since she’s been on the board for 18 years, the county’s Director of Facilities Planning Tim Amerson has been within 1 percent for the projected numbers.
“There is a lot more that goes into it,” Roche said. “I sent a chart to Tim and he said there were a lot more things that effect the numbers that I didn’t take into consideration like rising ninth graders going to Alliance Academy, the students not getting promoted, the Move on When Ready program and the retention factor.”
Morrissey said she’s heard from people who do not live in effected areas who complain.
“I feel for them, but you have to look at the big picture,” Roche said. “I struggle with it. We’ve met with the committee many times. We get complaints if we plan for the future like we are now, but we also get complaints because we don’t worry about something because it’s in the future.”
It’s a tough job, Roche said, because they “can’t win.”
“We have to plan for the future and we always have,” Roche said. “We’re working on the five-year facilities plan right now. We need another new high school, two new elementary schools and a middle school. There’s a lot going on in this county.”
Personally, Roche said her neighborhood was redistricted from a nearby school and she had to decide to split her children up from attending the same school.
“I had to vote for that last time because it was the right thing to do for the county,” Roche said. “There were 700 empty seats at Forsyth Central High School, and North Forsyth High School was overcrowded. There are a lot of tough decisions we have to deal with. It’s not an easy thing, and it’s emotional.”