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Hall board members weigh in on redistricting lines
Plans for Flowery Branch area schools have drawn fire from parents
Craig HerringtonNEW

With a vote on proposed new South Hall school attendance zone lines slated for the end of the month, school board members said they are weighing all factors before the vote.

Hall School Superintendent Will Schofield said this week a vote on the redistricting plan is scheduled for June 26.

The school district has proposed the new lines for the 2018-19 school year when a seventh middle school and high school opens on the site where Flowery Branch High School is now on Spout Springs Road. Flowery Branch is moving back to its former home at Davis Middle in August 2018. Davis is moving back to its original home at South Hall Middle and South Hall is moving back to its former home at the Academies of Discovery where a new two-story addition is planned.

School officials held two public hearings last month — one at Flowery Branch and one at Johnson High School. The most vocal opposition at both meetings came from residents of Sterling on the Lake, whose students would be moved with Flowery Branch more than two miles away instead of staying at the new school less than a mile from their homes.

The Times contacted the five school board members to get their thoughts on the issue. Bill Thompson could not be reached for comment, but the other four board members talked about where they are in the decision process.

“There’s a lot of things that have been said, a lot of things to consider,” said Board Chairman Nath Morris. “We’re going to make the decision that’s best for the system and best to utilize all of our facilities. We’ve got to take everything into consideration and there’s going to be some people who aren’t going to be too happy.”

Morris said he wants to be sure he is “comfortable that the best plan is being brought to us.”

“I do have a few questions in some areas. Is it making the best sense of our transportation resources, facility resources, where we’re projecting the growth to be? Once I feel comfortable with that, I will see where we land.”

Board Vice Chairman Craig Herrington said he is leaning toward voting for the proposed school attendance lines, but is keeping “an open mind.”

“I’ll be honest; I’m still looking at the maps,” Herrington said Friday. “I hate to say definitely one way or the other because I’ve asked for other maps. I still have to review and review and review.”

Herrington has been on the other redistricting side as a parent and said he understands what some of the parents are feeling.

“Anytime you move students from one school, there’s a big emotional part of that,” he said. “I understand where they’re coming from.”

He added that he wants to make sure the district spends money wisely.

“With all of the development going on at Lula and (Georgia Highway) 365 corridor, we could be hit with a large subdivision in one of those areas, so we have to be careful we don’t tie all of our money up in one area and then something grows up there and we have to build up there and are not be able to do so,” Herrington said.

Brian Sloan, who represents the Sterling on the Lake community on the school board, said he understands the concerns of those residents.

“They’re fine people who want what is best for their children and we do, too,” Sloan said. “This is my 11th year on the board and I have never had anything as controversial as redistricting. The good thing about it is you get to hear more from your constituents.”

More than 15 years ago, Sloan had to move his children from Spout Springs to Chestnut Mountain because of a change in attendance zones.

“I’m sympathetic to people who have to move schools,” he said.

Still, Sloan said he hasn’t made a final decision about how he will vote June 26.

“I’m not committing to anything right now, but I kind of have in my mind where I’m going,” he said. “If there was a plan that came up that pleased people better, I would take a look at that. There’s still time left to make some adjustments if we need to and that’s what those forums were for.”

Sam Chapman said the decision is “still wide open as far as I’m concerned.”

“I’m just trying to see if there’s an easier way to do it,” he said. “You’re always going to find some people unhappy. I hate to say that, but that’s the way it’s always going to be. We can’t please them all. I do appreciate people standing up for their children and their families and the way they think. I have respect for that.”

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