Families separated in Forsyth County schools shuffle

Midway Elementary redistricting approved



FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — At Midway Elementary School, overcrowded classrooms are only projected to continue to grow.

But shuffling students to new schools has its challenge, including splitting neighboring subdivisions.

To deal with the overcrowding at Midway, where building capacity is at 637 and current enrollment is 914 students, district leaders have approved a redistricting with the goal of not disrupting students’ middle and high school feeder patterns.

There are 183 students – of those, 27 are rising fifth-graders – the Forsyth County School System will take away from Midway Elementary in the 2013-14 school year. Students will be sent to Big Creek Elementary and Vickery Creek Elementary.

“Our enrollment has surpassed 42 percent of our building’s student capacity,” said Midway Elementary Principal Todd Smith in a letter to parents.

“Adjusting student attendance lines presents changes for families, but after studying Midway Elementary’s current and projected enrollment since January, the district believes that this is the right decision,” Smith said.

While many welcome the redistricting, some told Forsyth County Board of Education members that even more students need to be redistricted.

One such case is the Hanover Place and Hanover Pointe communities. Both are built by the same developer, share the same homeowners’ association and amenities and have become close. One subdivision is being redistricted – Hanover Pointe, on the east side of Union Hill Road – while Hanover Place students will not be.

Palak Shah, a parent living in Hanover Pointe, said in addition to being overcrowded, Midway has a low state ranking.

“Our kids also deserve to get a good ranking school,” Shah said.

Shah said there are about 30 students in her community.

“Moving these kids to Big Creek will still leave Big Creek with 100 vacant seats,” Shah said.

Joey Pirkle, associate superintendent for the district, said a committee put together to make a recommendation about the redistricting received 472 responses, mostly in favor and many from Hanover Place, who wanted to be part of the redistricting.

Students in the Union Hill Road, McGinnis Ferry Road and McFarland Road area will be affected, as will those living along Campground Road, Majors Road and Castleberry Road. This elementary redistricting would not disrupt these students’ middle school and high school feeder patterns.

School board officials said they plan for a much larger district-wide redistricting in the fall and that this move was for immediate relief to Midway Elementary.

The move was also due to projections of an additional 50 students who will be enrolled at Midway Elementary for the 2013-14 school year because of high-density residential developments approved for the school’s attendance zones.

It’s one of schools with the most trailers – 14 – and even more would have been added were it not for the board’s action.

A new elementary school on Martin Drive to relieve overcrowding in this area of South Forsyth is planned, but funding is still unavailable. If funding is secured, the earliest the new school is projected to open is 2016.

Regina Tallent, who lives in the Hampton Forest subdivision, spoke in favor of the redistricting. Her son, who will be entering fourth grade, will be redistricted to Vickery Creek Elementary next school year.

Tallent said the overcrowding at Midway is apparent from the long carpool lanes to lunch times, which can begin as early as 10 a.m. to accommodate all students.

“We are sad to leave Midway, but it’s for the right reasons,” Tallent said. “No one really wants to leave Midway.”

For more details or an out of district form, visit www.forsyth.k12.ga.us/redistricting1314.

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