As we have discussed in the past, nothing riles parents as much as school redistricting. And Cobb is considering the largest reshuffling of students and school lines in its history.
There is little that can be said to reassure parents who are losing what they consider a neighborhood school, but many posters in the past have reported their children adjusted well to the new setting.
Redistricting would be less upsetting if we have public school choice within school districts and students were already crisscrossing the county. But now there is great allegiance and preference for neighborhood schools, so much so that many people buy their homes based on the local school. When that local school is not as local as it was, there tends to be resistance and unhappiness.
I hope there is enough faith in the Cobb school board that this process will not be unnecessarily bloody, but there seems to be residual hostility from the school calendar reversal.
Cobb parents are meeting tonight and tomorrow night on the two redistricting proposals, which will be voted on in February. Tonight’s is at Pebblebrook High School, and tomorrow’s is at Campbell High School. You can find the two proposals here at the Cobb site.
Two elementary schools would close under the proposals, and a third would relocate, while others would reorganize. Also, some two dozen other elementary schools in south-central Cobb would be affected as students are sent to different schools.
The changes are meant to curb expenses and address some schools being overcrowded and others under-enrolled. Although the Cobb school system is not growing — enrollment has hovered around 107,000 for at least half a decade — some schools have grown too full. Others are less than full, and others are just old.
The two schools slated to close are Brown and Sky View. Another, the Fitzhugh Lee Center of HAVEN Academy, which serves children with emotional behavior disorders, would move into the emptied Brown building.
The students and teachers would move together, so relationships can be maintained. “The teachers follow the kids,” Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said.
School system spokesman Jay Dillon said it was the largest shuffling in Cobb’s history. The last shift was in 2008 and involved about a half dozen schools. As in the past, the proposal to move attendance lines has riled parents. The school system is accepting anonymous comments about the plan on its website, and people have made disdainful comments about some schools, drawing defensive comments from others.
Parents such as Tammie Benosky are concerned about what they’ll lose. The mother of a boy and girl at Brown said the school has about 300 kids and is just right. “We have a nice community,” she said. “This is a school where every teacher knows every student’s name.”
Benosky, a member of Brown’s parent-teacher association, said the new school will double in size. “It’s going to lose that small school feel,” she said.
Also among the planned changes, which would roll out over the next two school years, is the expansion of Austell Primary School, which serves kindergartners and first-graders, and Austell Intermediate, which serves second- through fifth-graders. Both would become traditional kindergarten through fifth-grade schools, saving more than $100,000 a year in transportation costs, system officials said.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog