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South Hall elementary schools swap a few students to ease crowding
Spout Springs School of Enrichment kindergarten teacher Paula Smathers gets her classroom prepared for the start of the school year.

South Hall families learned earlier this year that nearly 200 children might attend a different elementary school come August.

Hall County’s school board approved redistricting for Spout Springs School of Enrichment, Friendship Elementary School and Chestnut Mountain Creative School of Inquiry to make more room at Spout Springs this fall.

Last year, Spout Springs Principal Arlene Thomas said the school was over its approximately 900-student capacity, with nearly 1,000 students. Aaron Turpin, Hall director of technology, said the school’s projected enrollment for the fall is down slightly to 890, though growth in the area still reflects higher enrollment than other elementary schools.

Friendship, approximately two miles south of Spout Springs, was nearly 200 under capacity last year, as was Chestnut Mountain five miles north. Friendship’s projected enrollment for the fall is 620 students and Chestnut Mountain’s expected enrollment is 650.

Jewel Armour, executive director of operations for the Hall County School District, said the three schools’ close proximity will make the transition easier.

School leaders have been communicating with parents about the change in attendance and bus routes.

"It affected a small number of buses, and we’ve just notified the schools," Armour said. "They communicated with several parents about whether or not they were in the new district or out of the new district, and we gave them information regarding streets, student names and that kind of thing."

Approximately 102 students from the northwest portion of Spout Springs’ existing zone will move to Friendship, according to the proposed map. This includes students who live off an extended length of Hog Mountain Road.

The central, eastern portion of the Spout Springs zone will move to Chestnut Mountain, affecting approximately 88 students. This includes some direct routes to the school, such as Cash Road to Union Church Road.

"Buses that were already in that area will basically go to the new schools," Armour said. "We’ve adjusted some, not a total busload at a time, but we’ve adjusted some routes. And that’s basically all we’ve needed to do."

The redistricting plan allows current students and rising kindergartners who are siblings of current Spout Springs students to finish at the school if they provide their own transportation.

School officials said they know redistricting is not easy on students and families.

"I know it’s tough, redistricting," school board chairman Nath Morris has said. "I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about the numbers in our neighboring counties. But that’s what happens when you’re in a growing county. You try to plan for where the growth is going to come, but you don’t have a lot of control over it."

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