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District considering limits on school choice in South Hall to avoid overcrowding

With a new middle and high school opening in Hall County next year, school officials are considering changes to zoning to avoid overcrowding in South Hall.

The addition of Cherokee Bluff middle and high schools, with a capacity of 700 and 1,000 students, respectively, means school choice will be limited for new students and those currently attending the Academies of Discovery, Johnson High School, Davis Middle School and Flowery Branch High School.

Attendance at AOD, Johnson High, Davis Middle and Flowery Branch High already exceeds building capacity. Projected enrollment at these schools next year is almost 6,400.

“The seniors are a done deal,” Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said during a board of education meeting Monday, adding that it only makes sense to allow students in the next graduating class to stick with their current school regardless of new zoning.

Schofield said questionnaires have been sent to seniors and juniors to gauge their interest in where to attend school in the fall of 2018, with about 80 percent reporting that they will stay put.

But Schofield said he expects that number to shrink in the coming months.

The placement or hiring of new teachers, coaches and administrators may sway some opinion, he added.

But officials agreed that attendance based on zoning will be needed to limit school choice among rising sixth-graders through 10th-graders at these schools.

“We cannot overload … by allowing choice” across the board, Schofield said. “The question is, ‘Do we allow juniors no matter what?’”

Officials said they expect to have firmer numbers in the coming months on projected enrollment versus capacity at each of these six schools.

Relocating portable classrooms or shifting where and when some teachers work might be necessary to keep class sizes limited, Schofield said.

“We’ll do what we need to do,” he added.  

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