2,400 kids face switching schools?

Tue, 10/16/2007 - 4:53pm
By: John Thompson

1 out of every 4 elementary students may be moved; E. Fayette to be closed

Fayette County’s elementary school redistricting committee may recommend to the school board Oct. 29 that more than 2,400 students change schools next year.

If the board goes along with the recommendation, 28 percent of the county’s 8,772 elementary students could be switching schools, and East Fayette Elementary School would be closed.

During last Thursday’s meeting, committee members heard from consultant Kelley Carey, who has helped the committee sift through various maps and growth projections. Carey was pleased with the results from the committee.

“It’s not every district that has this much public input on redistricting,” said Carey.

Carey showed the committee numbers indicating that closing East Fayette would save the school system about $644,000 a year in reduced staffing costs. Although the entire staff could transfer to the new Inman Elementary School, the system would not have to hire a new staff for the new school.

But where would the students who attended East Fayette go to school next year?

If the committee approves the map that it has shaped over the last few weeks, a dramatic sea change could occur in where students attend elementary school. Here are some of the projections:

• 327 East Fayette students would be shifted to Spring Hill Elementary.

• 215 East Fayette students would attend Inman.

• 290 Spring Hill students would be redistricted to Minter Elementary.

• 280 Minter students would head to the new school in Inman.

• 203 Peachtree City Elementary students would be shifted to Kedron Elementary.

• 127 Huddleston students would be sent to Kedron.

• 110 Minter students would be redistricted to Brooks.

• 85 Peeples students would shift to Minter.

The huge redistricting represents a paradigm shift for the school system to geographically center more students around the county’s elementary schools that have big footprints.

Carey also recommended that the school system look at expanding Peachtree City Elementary.

Even after all the new lines are drawn, Peachtree City and Burch Elementary will still be overcrowded.

Burch’s situation should be alleviated when Tillman Elementary opens in 2009, but Peachtree City will remain over capacity.

One committee member suggested the system look at calling for a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax to help pay for any expansion of the original elementary school in Peachtree City.

The committee will meet Oct. 22 and 25 before making a report to the Board of Education Oct. 29.

The board has the final say on any redistricting efforts and is expected to hold public hearings in November to allow concerned parents to voice their opinions.


BoE may hear options for redrawing districts Oct. 29

by John Munford

Tuesday’s meeting of the elementary school redistricting committee has been postponed.

Assistant School Superintendent Sam Sweat told the Fayette County Board of Education that there was not enough time between last Thursday’s meeting and Tuesday for consultant Kelley Carey to prepare new figures for the committee.

The committee now plans to meet Monday, Oct. 22 and Thursday, Oct. 25.

The committee ultimately will present several redistricting options to the school board, perhaps as early as Oct. 29. Though Sweat initially recommended the presentation be just to the school board, several board members noted a larger venue such as an auditorium might be needed for that meeting because of the public interest in the new maps.

Board chairman Terri Smith said she felt the initial presentation of the redistricting options “will be well-attended.”

Sweat said he couldn’t guarantee the presentation will occur Oct. 29, because it depends on the committee’s wishes. The plan is for each alternative to be presented by a different member of the committee, Sweat said.

School board member Bob Todd said he’d rather the process go a little slower and be done right.

After the initial presentation of the committee’s recommendations to the board, there will be at least two workshops on the matter with the school board before a potential vote to adopt a redistricting plan, officials said.

Sweat said the goal is to create a plan that will last five years. The committee has previously discussed the possibility of closing East Fayette Elementary in the same year that the school system will open Inman Elementary.

Sweat said the process has been frustrating to him at times, noting that it’s partly due to the difficulty of getting such a large group of people to come to a consensus.

There are 28 citizens serving on the committee including a representative from each of the county’s 17 elementary schools, six middle schools and five high schools, Sweat said.

“We’re making excellent progress,” Sweat said.

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Submitted by ATLtoPTC on Wed, 10/17/2007 - 3:47pm.

A "final proposal" hasn't even been agreed upon, and it is my understanding that the committee may want to present more than one map to the board for consideration. Nothing is set in stone yet! Also, the Huddleston students would likely go to Peachtree City Elementary, not Kedron, so the numbers & info in this article shouldn't be taken as absolute fact at this point.

What I STILL don't understand is why a school for the West Village was never aggressively pursued by the board, and why one isn't part of this plan. Regardless of what your opinion is about the West Village, the fact is that it exists, and there are a TON of kids there. PCES is and will continue to be over-capacity because of that fact.

The committee originally wanted to strive for 85% capacity at all schools - without a school in the West Village, they will most likely not be able to achieve that goal. Also, the well-qualified consultant they hired seems to take pride in the fact that he has gone into other districts and closed many small schools to create "more efficient" larger schools. One of the things that makes Fayette County schools excellent is the neighborhood school concept. Small schools WORK. Other school systems are discovering that while their large schools are more cost effective, they aren't always the best learning environments for the students. The redistricting committee needs to think very hard about what the long term plan is for the county in regards to building/not building/closing schools!

Submitted by carcar on Wed, 10/17/2007 - 8:58am.

That is very interesting because I petitioned the BOE to let my son attend Kedron Elementary instead of PTC Elementary because it made better sense for our family due to drop off and pick up schedules. We were denied. If they are over crowded and are going to move kids anyway, why not move the students who want to be moved?

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