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South Hall school redistricting to be hot topic at Tuesday public hearing
Residents express concerns through petition, social media page
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Residents will have a chance to voice their opinions on a school redistricting proposal in South Hall directly to officials and the school board at a meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Johnson High.

Meanwhile, residents from a community affected by the proposal have launched a Facebook page and started a petition drive one of their leaders said has already received nearly 400 signatures.

The redistricting plan is proposed for implementation in August 2018 when a new middle/high school opens on the current campus of Flowery Branch High School.

Flowery Branch is set to move back to its original campus where Davis Middle School is now located. Davis would move back to its original home where South Hall Middle School is currently housed. South Hall would move back to its original home at the Academies of Discovery.

Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said the redistricting plan has been “well thought out for the last couple of years.” The district has had online feedback and has recently provided answers to questions based on concerns brought up by residents. Those questions and answers can be found here

One neighborhood in South Hall, Legend Falls, has already had its redistricting lines changed as a result of feedback from residents.

Residents of the Sterling on the Lake community in South Hall have voiced concerns about the plan because it would send students in their neighborhood to Flowery Branch High about three miles away instead of the new school which is less than a mile away.

Jennifer Kovach, one of the leaders of the group, said the petition asks that students living in Sterling be able to attend the new middle/high school because it is closer to the community.

Kovach said she is also concerned that all of Spout Springs Elementary, where her child attends, would not be able to go to the same middle and high school. Under the proposal, some students from Spout Springs would go to the new school and others would be in the Flowery Branch attendance zone.

“I think, for our neighborhood, we have a few concerns and we’ve gathered together as a neighborhood a few times and talked about it,” she said. “We’re just trying to keep our kids going to our home school.”

A Facebook page, South Hall Redistricting Forum, has been set up for comments by Kovach and others. It had 262 members Friday afternoon.

Schofield said while he prefers students go to the school closest to their home, it isn’t always practical.

“We have a lot of kids in this district that don’t necessarily attend the school that they are closest to,” he said. “We do that whenever we can, but the bottom line is in a place like that southwestern corner of Hall County where things are exploding, it’s going to just be a challenge to keep folks in permanent buildings.

“We’ve got the room for the growth at that new campus where essentially a new middle school will be built, and there was just no way to keep that large neighborhood going to that same school and not end up with an additional 150-student hole in the former Flowery Branch High School.”

Schofield said he has heard from residents that have expressed concern about the plan as well as those who support it.

“In redistricting it is impossible to please everyone because what everyone wants is not to have any change and, by definition, that’s not what redistricting is,” he said.

The public is invited to attend and speak at Tuesday’s public hearing. A second public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 30 at Flowery Branch High School.

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