The Cobb County Board of Education unanimously approved the South Cobb redistricting of elementary schools at its regular board meeting on Thursday.
The redistricting plan will close Sky View Elementary in Mableton and Brown Elementary in Smyrna. Students zoned for Sky View will now attend the new Mableton Elementary School, which is to be completed by Fall 2012. The school’s population will double in size. Brown students will attend a new Smyrna elementary school, which will open in fall 2013.
Students from Fitzhugh Lee H.A.V.E.N. Academy will begin using the renovated Brown Elementary facility in January 2014.
Also, under the plan, Austell Primary and Austell Intermediate Schools become traditional kindergarten through fifth grade elementary schools.
A second public hearing to address the proposed school closures was held at 5:30 p.m. before the board meeting.
Board member Lynnda Crowder Eagle, whose grandmother taught at Sky View Elementary, said “We will definitely have transition groups to work carefully with students, with the community and with the staff of those schools. But I understand your concern, but I think if you look at the recommendations, sometimes we have to make those very difficult choices.”
Deputy Superintendent Alice Strouder said district officials have established a transition plan, which includes moving textbooks, furniture, facilities from Sky View Elementary to Mableton Elementary.
Strouder said the schools’ principals, staff members and area superintendents have met and will begin transitioning with the PTAs from both Mableton and Sky View elementary schools.
A public hearing regarding school closings was held before the board meeting, but for most of the speakers who took the podium the writing was on the wall.
Erin Stack, mother of Sky View kindergarten and third grade students and the president of the school’s council, came to the meeting with about a dozen Sky View faculty and staff.
“Our only request is that you continue to help us find a transition plan because we don’t have a lot of time to move schools,” Stack said. “So whatever help that you can give us in that transition to really enter the school, to help us work with the new school—we’ve had some meetings, but not a lot of support. We understand the vote isn’t final, but we haven’t been on the map since the beginning. So to us, this vote was final when those maps came out.”
Board member Tim Stultz, who serves Smyrna and Mableton schools, called the redistricting process “a mixture of emotions” and said that Cobb’s growth, particularly in the southern portion of the county, make it financially difficult to sustain smaller schools like Brown and Sky View.
The school board’s decision brought a nearly yearlong redistricting process to a close. But for the parents of Brown and Sky View students, it’s only the beginning.
As parents and staff members begin the transition period, Stack, who is the president of the Sky View School Council, said she would like to see more communication from district officials.
She wrote in an email to South Cobb Patch during Thursday’s meeting, “The decision was made to close Sky View and that hasn't changed in any of the maps, however the board could have been more proactive in communicating with us. I shouldn't have had to reach out they should have contacted me.”