0

Attendance boundaries vote tonight
Plan aims to ease overcrowding at schools, but not all pleased

SUWANEE - School district officials say the final proposal for attendance boundaries for 15 new schools is the best plan for relieving overcrowding and balancing enrollment among its facilities.

While some parents are pleased with the plan, others are unhappy with the proposal that the Gwinnett Board of Education will be asked to approve tonight at its monthly business meeting. The 7 p.m. meeting is open to the public and will take place in the Board Room of the Instructional Support Center at 437 Old Peachtree Road in Suwanee.

"We are extremely unhappy that we have been moved from Grayson to Archer," said Rose Tracy, a resident of Wisteria Place subdivision in Grayson. "We have strong ties to the Grayson community. Grayson is our home, and we want our children to go to school in Grayson."

The plan will create three new clusters: Archer, Lanier and Mountain View. About 23,000 students will be affected by the redistricting.

Parents in Wisteria Place are also concerned about the number of school buses that will have to travel along Camp Mitchell Road if students in the area are sent to schools in the Archer and Grayson clusters, Tracy said.

More than 100 residents of the 150-home subdivision submitted boundary input forms to the school district's Planning Department, and several Wisteria Place residents also spoke at a public hearing last month. But Tracy said she and her neighbors feel they were "completely ignored."

Her neighbor, Karen Tanner, agrees. Tanner said she thinks there is no logic to the map, which would keep several surrounding neighborhoods in the Grayson cluster.

"No one was able to give us explanation as to why they had cut us out of the area around us that will be attending Grayson," Tanner wrote in an e-mail. "If (district personnel did not) have a good reason, then why did they not listen? I truly believe they just sat there and truly had already made up their minds that they were not going to do a thing different."

Board Vice Chairwoman Carole Boyce, who represents the Grayson area, said she wants to assure county residents that their concerns were heard. Every input form was read, and every person who spoke at the public hearing was heard, she said.

Boyce said she expects some people will be upset with the decision, but the lines must be drawn.

"It's the type of thing where not every request can be met, but decisions need to be made for the entire school system," Boyce said. "Every area out there has its own concerns.

"We know it's an emotional issue," she added. "People are very, very close to their schools, and we love to hear that. ... We're concerned about overcrowding, and this is our way to handle that."

The Planning Department has released two revisions of its original proposal based on input from the community.

One revision will keep the Hamilton Mill area intact by sending all students to the new Puckett's Mill Elementary School, instead of sending some to Fort Daniel Elementary.

Paul Brannigan, leader of Hamilton Mill United, said area residents are very happy with the revision. He said he was glad the district looked at how the community would be impacted by the proposal, and he said he will be satisfied tonight if the board passes the final proposal.

"We're very happy that the process worked out the way it did," he said.

In Sugar Hill, some changes were made, such as the proposal to keep the Twin Creeks subdivision within Riverside Elementary's boundaries. But the district did not accept Sugar Hill Mayor Gary Pirkle's plan to eliminate socioeconomic disparity that he said would be created by splitting the North Gwinnett cluster along the proposed lines.

Pirkle asked residents to submit boundary input forms supporting his plan. He and several other residents also addressed the board at a public hearing.

The final proposal was "certainly not what we were hoping for," Pirkle said. If the district was not going to redraw the lines for the Lanier cluster, he said he hoped the board would consider changing the boundary lines to send children in the Emerald Lakes subdivision to White Oak Elementary and to keep the Morningbrooke subdivision in the North cluster.

Sloan Roach, spokeswoman for Gwinnett County Public Schools, said the final recommendations were not made lightly, and the district feels the proposal is the best plan to address overcrowding. If the board votes to approve the proposal, the attendance lines for the 12 new schools and three replacement facilities will be set.

The agenda for tonight's meeting is available online at www.gwinnett.k12.ga.us.

SideBar: If you go

' What: Gwinnett Board of Education business meeting

' When: 7 p.m. tonight

' Where: Board Room, Instructional Support Center, 437 Old Peachtree Road, Suwanee

' For more information: View the complete agenda online at www.gwinnett.k12.ga.us.