FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Forsyth County Schools is deep into the redistricting process, but took some time recently to let those affected by it air their grievances.
The West Forsyth High School auditorium was filled to capacity Oct. 24 with parents and community members from roughly 20 different neighborhoods. They spoke of their concerns about the proposed redistricting map and gave suggestions on how to amend it.
The draft of that map was approved Oct. 17 and is scheduled for final approval 6 p.m. on Nov. 14 at the Board of Education’s meeting. A special called board meeting will also be held at 4 p.m., Nov. 2 at 1120 Dahlonega Highway.
Many of the speakers talked about how their children grew up in certain communities and they wanted those connections to remain. Others said their homes were in close proximity to the schools they were having to leave.
Carrie Meersman spoke about the impact on her neighborhood, Stoney Point Farms.
She spoke about the board’s objectives they are trying to reach during the process, including populating the new Denmark High School and reducing overcrowding at South Forsyth, Lambert and West Forsyth high schools.
“Those objective should have modified timetables that are realistic in reaching those goals,” Meersman said. “While those objectives are intellectually understood, they should not and cannot be the sole and only criteria looked at when developing a reasonable and sound solution to draw district lines.”
The neighborhoods along the Stoney Point corridor are recognized by numerous organizations as part of South Forsyth, which is where the students are currently assigned. The new map moves them farther to the west to Denmark High, she said.
The reassignment flies in the face of the county’s park and recreation organizations that require children to play sports at a nearby park, Meersman said.
“As part of this proposal our corridor is being pulled away from our community,” Meersman said. “If the parks and rec department recognizes us as South Forsyth and is dealing with this growth, why are we being pulled away?”
She said she and her neighbors understand many county schools are overcrowded.
“There will not be a viable solution to the overcrowding until schools are built with the intent to handling a larger capacity and the county holds the board of commissioners responsible for approving high-density zoning,” Meersman said. “Any argument to reduce overcrowding is futile at best.”
Rather than make students have longer commutes, the neighborhoods in close proximity to Denmark should be the ones getting redistricted, she said.
“To pull the Stoney Creek corridor on the basis it is needed in order to populate the new school is an inaccurate assessment,” Meersman said. “With the developing areas, the new school will grow rapidly. If the drawn lines remain, it will reach overcapacity and overcrowded status in no time. Let the new school populate naturally without uprooting and displacing students and families from a close, established location at South Forsyth High School.”
Offering a different perspective, Tara Glover from Laurel Springs said although her neighborhood is unaffected by the redistricting currently, she still understands how much hard work the parents put in to helping their students.
“People want to be like this county,” Glover said. “People are making a choice to live here and driving in traffic to be here. People choose to be here probably because of the schools. I want people to grow roots here, live and love this community. It’ll all work out and Denmark will be just as great as Lambert and South Forsyth.”