About 200 people attended Tuesday night’s South Cobb redistricting meeting at where Doug Shepard, chief SPLOST administrative officer for the Cobb County School District (CCSD), explained the redistricting process in the Livingston Auditorium.
, the process will likely take 10 to 11 months to properly execute as district prepares to open three replacement elementary schools, Mableton and Clarkdale elementary schools to open in fall 2012 and a Smyrna elementary school to be completed a year later.
No one has seen a redistricting map yet, but the ultimate redistricting plan will affect 27 elementary schools and will most likely include school closings. More than one school could have its doors shut in Smyrna, with the likely candidates being , and .
District officials said they will consider the following factors before closing a school: enrollment, the need for extensive renovations and location.
Redistricting criteria include efficient and effective school sizes, consideration of home-to-school travel time and safety, and the efficiency of feeder patterns. One of the objectives is to eliminate elementary schools that feed into differing middle schools.
Many parents expressed concern about how the redistricting of elementary schools will affect the feeder patterns to various middle and high schools.
Shepard said they are “very hesitant” to tackle middle and high redistricting, but if they did, it would be during round two of the process.
Supporters and opponents of closing Milford Elementary school in Marietta were vocal and visible. Those supoorting the school’s closing said the elementary school is located near a very dangerous intersection. Those who want the school to remain open cited the school’s high test scores and competent staff and administration as reasons it should not be closed.
Parents brought up issues from whether closed schools would be repurposed to how a potential mass exodus of illegal immigrants could affect the enrollment of local schools.
In response the illegal immigration question, Shepard said it “should have no impact on attendance.”
Tuesday’s hearing was the first of three required by state law. It served as an initial public forum and no redistricting maps were proposed.
Parents were able to share their concerns with school officials using laptops the CCSD set up in the back of the auditorium. District officials also set up a public commenting wall, similar to a Facebook wall.
Shepard explained that he and his staff are committed to answering each email and comment received on the redistricting wall.
The CCSD intends to hold another meeting in September, which would outline two or more alternate plans for redistricting based on citizen’s input.
The next meeting, round three, would be held in November.
“That feedback will then be used for round three, which is our goal to present a single draft plan,” said Shepard. “At that point, we’re still interested in collecting input on the draft plan. And I want to emphasize that at that point it will only be a draft plan.''
After the three public meetings are held, a plan for redistricting will be presented to the Cobb County School Board in January and February of 2012. The proposed plan will be based on the redistricting decisions suggested by the public at the first three hearings.
The January hearing will be the first of two required by law. Georgia law requires Cobb County schools to hold two public closure hearings when deciding whether to close a public school.
The second of the two hearings will be held in February at which point the school board will take final action.
Check back as South Cobb Patch continues with coverage of the South Cobb redistricting process.