Public hearings on South Hall school redistricting
At Johnson High
Where: 3305 Poplar Springs Road
When: 7 p.m. May 23
At Flowery Branch High
Where: 6603 Spout Springs Road, Flowery Branch
When: 7 p.m. May 30
Two public hearings are scheduled late next month for Hall County school board members and officials to hear comments and concerns about proposed redistricting plans for South Hall when a seventh middle and high school open in August 2018.
The public meetings are scheduled for 7 p.m. May 23 at Johnson High School and 7 p.m. May 30 at Flowery Branch High School.
The new middle and high schools will be the seventh of each in the school district and the third of each in South Hall. The cluster has not yet been named, but it will house grades 6-12 in the location where Flowery Branch High School is currently located, according to Aaron Turpin, Hall County assistant superintendent for technology.
Under the current plan, Turpin said Flowery Branch High will move back to its original home where Davis Middle School is currently housed. Davis will move back to its original home at the current South Hall Middle School and South Hall Middle will move back to the site where the Academies of Discovery is housed. Turpin said a 100,000-square-foot addition there would allow South Hall and the other programs there to be on the site together.
Turpin said the district has already had 32,000 views on its website for feedback on the proposed redistricting plan. Out of that, there were 115 comments left, and school officials have created nine questions and answers that Turpin said cover the feedback received so far.
The questions and answers cover a variety of topics including concerns about middle and high school students on the same campus; whether seniors will be able to attend the school they attended as juniors; the process of selecting administration, teachers and coaches for the new schools; the instructional programs available at the schools and the effects the changes will have on existing classroom and athletic facilities.
The questions and answers can be found at https://www.hallco.org/boe/site/response-to-public-feedback/.
The feedback has already led to one change in the proposed redistricting plan. About 79 students in the Legend Falls subdivision have been moved from the proposed Flowery Branch attendance zone to the new school’s attendance zone.
“Legend Falls only comes out to Spout Springs Road,” Turpin said. “They would literally have to drive past the new high school to go to Flowery Branch.”
The district addressed the concern about middle and high school students being on the same campus in one of the answers.
“Middle school students will have an assigned wing and will be limited in their access to high school areas and classrooms. Currently, students in grades 6-12 ride the same school bus and there have been very few issues related to different grade levels,” the district wrote in its response to the feedback. “Assigned teachers and staff will carefully monitor students as they arrive and depart from campus to ensure that students stay in the appropriate locations on campus.”
Residents can still leave feedback on the website.
“There have been great questions, great feedback,” Superintendent Will Schofield said.
The new school would be the only one in the district to have middle and high school students on the same campus, Turpin said. He said the school was originally planned a little less than a decade ago, but was put on hold during the economic downturn.
“Prior to 2008, we were growing leaps and bounds — 700 kids a year — predominantly in the south part of the school district,” Turpin said. “Then the growth literally stopped. In 2008, we grew by 40 kids. In 2009, we grew by 35 kids. At the time we were set to open up the seventh middle and high schools. It didn’t make any sense because we were going to open a school and we didn’t have any kids because the growth stopped.”