School district starts boundary focus meetings
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
September 30, 2012 01:27 AM | 1732 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ACWORTH — The 2012-13 boundary focus group process got underway this week with parents from four Cherokee County School District schools already giving input on what they would like to see at their respective schools for the next school year.

District staff conducts boundary focus group meetings each year for parents who have children at schools where changes to boundary lines, grade configurations and a number of other alterations to reduce overcrowding or to address increases in student population are being considered.

On Thursday, about 20 parents came to Clark Creek Elementary School’s gymnasium to hear from Russ Sims, assistant superintendent of facilities and Mitch Hamilton, planning and forecasting coordinator.

Parents from Chapman Intermediate School and E.T. Booth met Monday night with district staff and Bascomb Elementary parents met Wednesday, with only Chapman deciding an additional meeting was needed for Monday, Oct. 8.

The additional Chapman/Booth meeting was requested after parent concern about district officials considering the possibility of turning Chapman into a ninth-grade center. The Cherokee County School Board will not decide on final plans for any of its facilities under consideration until Dec. 6.

While parents at Clark Creek won’t see much of a change as the new school opened with a fifth-grade class this fall, Bascomb, Boston and Oak Grove elementaries may see the addition of a fifth-grade class to their current K-4 models. They are the only three schools in the county without a fifth-grade class.

At Ball Ground, parents will have input as to whether they like the current kindergarten through sixth-grade model.

General consensus among the approximately 20 parents at the Clark Creek meeting was they would like to keep their kindergarten through fifth-grade model intact, with only one couple voicing they would like to include sixth-grade.

Behind the current Booth facility, the district is constructing a new building intended to house sixth- through eight-grade students with a capacity of 1,500 students and planned to open next August.

“This is the first middle school we’ve built for 1,500,” Sims said. “Initially, they were built for 1,200.”

He added that Booth, Teasley and Dean Rusk were all built around the same time in the 1970s and the district has planned to replace each of those facilities.

“We’re trying to get where we can run the traditional (K-8) model,” Sims said.

Sims said turning Chapman, which is on the same campus as Etowah High School and the new E.T. Booth Middle School, into a ninth-grade center is something that “remains to be seen.”

He stressed the purpose of the boundary meetings is to get input and that no decisions have been made.

“We’re just kind of fishing right now to see what everybody says,” Sims told the parents. “What we do at these initial meetings is come in and say, ‘Okay, tell us, give us feedback.”

Sims said the best way to provide feedback is to send Hamilton an email at mitch.hamilton@cherokee.k12.ga.us, which will be used to finalize staff recommendations.

Many parents were concerned about the fate of Chapman and how that would impact their students in the future, but Sims said the meeting needed to be focused on issues concerning Clark Creek students.

“If you do have an older child, we do have the meeting coming up Monday week (Oct. 8), and we will have the information at that,” Sims said.

Sims did tell parents the district could open the Chapman facility for whatever configuration it decides by next fall.

“There’s any number of things that could happen with that building,” Sims said, noting it could be turned into anything from a special education facility to a night class program.

He added that district staff is considering the implication of facility changes on the traffic flow for the so-called “Eagle Mountain” campus and may change traffic and sidewalk patterns depending on what decision is made.

Another concern parents addressed was how transportation would be changed next year for Clark Creek students. Sims said busing is not part of the boundary process and would be addressed by the district in January when it begins its annual budget process.

One parent questioned whether the students who were bused in from other parts of the county would affect the transportation schedule, but Principal Dr. Jennifer Scrivner said only about 100 of Clark Creek’s 907 students come from outside the school boundary lines to attend the STEM Academy, which is part of the district’s school choice initiative.

At the end of the meeting, Scrivner said she would bring busing and transportation concerns parents shared during the meeting to Dr. Brian Hightower, assistant superintendent of school operations.

Upcoming boundary focus group meetings will be held at Ball Ground on Monday, Oct. 1, Boston on Tuesday, Oct. 2, Oak Grove on Thursday, Oct. 4 and the follow-up Chapman and E. T. Booth meeting will be held on Monday, Oct. 8.

All meetings start at 7 p.m. and will be held at each respective school except for the Chapman/Booth meeting, which will be held at the Etowah High School auditorium.

All considerations will be compiled and presented to the CCSD Board of Education from 6:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1, at a public input meeting prior to the board’s regular meeting. The board will vote on final boundary recommendations for 2013-14 at its Thursday, Dec. 6, meeting.

Both meetings will be held in the historic Canton High School/school board auditorium in downtown Canton.



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