Being redistricted? How to help kids cope?

Gwinnett County parents learn Friday if their kids are among the 9,000 students who will be redistricted next fall as the county draws new school boundaries. (Here’s the map.)

Redistricting is not a new thing in Gwinnett. I grew up in Gwinnett during the ’80s when it was expanding rapidly. My best friend in elementary school was redistricted away to the new elementary school. I was so sad to lose her and didn’t see her again until three years later in middle school.

The county literally looked at the major street outside my parent’s neighborhood and said houses on the right side of the street go to X and houses on the left go to Y. It was very sad to see our friends go.

But clearly my husband has it worse. He spent his elementary years in Augusta when it was growing rapidly.

He was redistricted FOUR TIMES in FOUR YEARS. I’m not kidding.

My husband’s dad was in the Army so they moved all the time anyway. He didn’t think it was a big deal that he went to four different schools consecutive years while living in the same house.

Despite his nonchalance, he does offer this advice: “Redistricting is not as bad as moving because at least the kids in your neighborhood are getting screwed with you. If you play sports or go to church you may have met some kids from the other elementary school.”

I was extremely picky about buying our new house because I wanted to make sure I was clearly in the elementary school’s district I wanted. I kept going up to the school and looking at a giant map on the front office’s wall that showed the district. I would crook over the vice principals and say “Am I safe here?” “Have you heard any talk of moving this neighborhood?”

You’re never completely safe, but I think it would be hard for us to be shifted to a different school. Plus, I would be the biggest pain in the #@@ and would fight it every step of the way!

Are you one of the families being redistricted? Are you upset or OK about it? What’s your plan? How will you help your kids cope?

Were you ever redistricted in the past like my husband? What advice would you give parents to help their kids cope?

34 comments Add your comment

Kevin

October 2nd, 2009
6:53 am

Our family is upset. We are being shifted again to another school and now a change in our school cluster. We will actually have to drive by North Gwinnett High School to get to our new High School in 2010, Lanier High School. When we purchased our home nearly 10 years ago we were sold on the house based primarily on the schools, Riverside Elementary, Lanier Middle School and North Gwinnett. We have had many neighbors sell their homes and move to another area just down the street JUST because of the re-districting. We were uprooted and forced to change elementary schools when Sycamore opened even though Riverside was much closer to our home. Now my son is going to White Oak Elementary which is just down the street from North Gwinnett High School but unfortunately he will not being going to North Gwinnett (as his three older sisters), he has been re-districted to Lanier High School. We will most likely move our son out of the public school environment and into a private school next year as the Gwinnett County School Administrators continue to re-district, move, disrupt kids and our family lives.

deidre_NC

October 2nd, 2009
6:53 am

i was redistricted in the first grade…a new school was built – i actually got my first kiss then..a little boy who liked me gave me a kiss on the cheek my last day lol..then we moved when i was in the 5th grade…new school then…then in high school i went to lakeside high and was redistriced when henderson high was built…we didnt call it redistricting…we just called it moving to the new school..no one made a big deal out of it..we just did it..it was life…kids will be fine…i dont understand the big deal..some friends will go with and some wont…there will be kids to be friends with…theres a lot worse things that can happen….

deidre_NC

October 2nd, 2009
6:57 am

oh i have to say…when i lived in greensboro nc…my daughter was in kindegarten, making her 5…i moved into a house just for the school that was a block away…not knowing that greensboro had an intergration system that bussed kids to schools in order to make a fairly even split between both white and black kids…i had no problem at all with the integration part…i did have a problem with the fact that she had to ride a bus an hour to get to kindegarten…i thought that was too long of a bus ride for that age kid….

Jennifer

October 2nd, 2009
7:22 am

Be wary. The district should be prohibited from zoning anyone into schools that do not have a significant history of good performance.

Vork

October 2nd, 2009
7:24 am

I think if you Google, “helicopter parent” Theresa’s picture shows up. Going up to the school and bothering the vice principle asking if he/she hears of any redistricting? REALLY? Is there no limit to your obsessivness?

Dr. Horrible

October 2nd, 2009
7:25 am

I’ve lived in East Cobb all my life and was never redistricted, but not all of the same kids that went to one particular elementary school progressed into the same middle school together or to the same high school from the same middle school. But you know what, if your friends go to a different school then you make new friends. I know change is a novel concept to some but it is part of life and the sooner you adapt, the happier you will be.

lakerat

October 2nd, 2009
7:30 am

With our kids we were almost re-districted once (Forsyth County) and would have been like Kevin with our kids having to go to a middle and high school that were actually farther away than the one’s to which we were originally assigned (their re-districting did not involve the opening of new schools, just the school boards whim to re-draw the lines!). We became very vocal and visible at school board meetings and were successful in having the lines re-drawn so that our kids did not have to move – though other friends were affected.

When opening new schools, however, that is an entirely different deal regarding populating it, especially with high school age kids, but to just re-draw the lines in established areas without a new school to populate, that is just dumb. I understand Kevin’s dilemma about going right past the school in their “current district” to go to the new school as that is difficult to manage. I cannot understand how that could have happened – anybody got any clues? However, since the son is not now in high school I do not see it as that big of a deal – usually the new schools are nicer, and the faculty is usually, though not always, better atuned to really TEACHING rather than just baby sitting – I think Peachtree Ridge and Mill Creek are the most recent HS in Gwinnett, and they have been very successful in a short amount of time. Good luck to those of you who have to live through this!

Becky

October 2nd, 2009
8:01 am

This isn’t something that I’ve ever dealt with, so I’ll be interested in seeing what others say..

Kathy

October 2nd, 2009
8:42 am

Redistricting can be an upsetting process.

The bottom line is, if you choose to live ANYWHERE in Gwinnett, you should be prepared to someday have your children redistricted due to the opening of new schools. Just because you move into one district doesn’t mean that you will be there your child’s whole school career. Having gone through this as an educator, I can tell you that the school board does not respond to whining, crying parents who complain about their child not being with their friends, or you having to drive farther. What they respond to is parents who act intelligently and present the district with an alternate redistricting plan for their neighborhood. They might not necessarily change their plan to yours, but it has happened in the past. When I was teaching Kindergarten at a school in the Berkmar cluster, our school was going to lose several neighborhoods to a neighboring school. A group of parents got together, looked at the map and several possibilities. They drew up a new plan, presented it to the school Board and the Board accepted their plan. It can work! If your family is being redistricted, you should look at the maps carefully and go to the school board meetings. If you are certain that there is a better way, get a group of parents together and present an alternate plan to the Board. They are more likely to listen to you than if you just go to the meetings and complain.

As far as helping your child through it, you should be positive about the change. If you whine and complain, don’t be surprised when your child does the same thing. Opening a new school is exciting for all parties involved. Sometimes change is good! In fact, the only thing in life you can really count on is that it will change. Like deirdre_NC said, there are a lot worse things that can happen to your child.

lakerat….actually Mountain View and Archer are the most recent high schools in Gwinnett…..FYI.

Kevin….you live in one of the most crowded and fastest growing areas of Gwinnett and you honestly believed that at some point your child would not be redistricted??? You really did not do your homework….10 years ago the school system had a plan already in place to build schools for that area. Yes, take your child to private school and contribute to the overcrowding relief.

lakerat

October 2nd, 2009
8:46 am

Thanks, Kathy, for the info – I have not even heard of Mountain View or Archer – where are they located and when did they open?

Kathy

October 2nd, 2009
8:49 am

lakerat…..Mountain View is in Buford and Archer is in Grayson and they both opened August of this year

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

October 2nd, 2009
8:52 am

Dear Vork — My family has lived in this area for 32 years. I know which schools are good and which are not so good. Why would I pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a house and go to the trouble of moving and not try to assure my family that we will be stable and in the best possible educational environment possible? I think that’s just smart. And like Kathy said, that’s just research. Those vice principals and principals have all kinds of growth reports and projections. They know where schools are going to expand ahead of the public. One local elementary school changed from septic tank to sewer and guess what they are now adding on another building. To do guess what? Take kids from our school district. That’s just paying attention to your community.

Cricket Hill

October 2nd, 2009
8:57 am

We have been through this and are still angry over
what the GCSB has done to our neighborhood. Be aware that
the board members are just puppets of Wilbanks and you will never get to speak to him. They are going to do what ever it is he recommmends. These proposed lines will
change very little so get used to it now. Also, be aware
of any “split feeding” they may propose.Our middle schools are still split fed, even though we were promised
it would only be for a year. They will lie to your face and think nothing of it. They did it to us in 2007.

Kathy

October 2nd, 2009
8:59 am

Cricket Hill….what is split feeding?

New Stepmom

October 2nd, 2009
9:48 am

Theresa and Kevin, check into your child being grandfathered into a certain “cluster” because that is where they started school. My brother and I both graduated from GC schools. My brother was supposed to be redistricted his senior year, but because he started kindergarten in the “cluster” where the original High School was he was allowed to stay with no issue. That has been 13 years ago, so it could have changed, but it worked for him. We even moved away for 3 years due to my dad’s job and came back to the same district and he was still grandfathered, he just had to provide his own transportation.

Having moved around growing up, it does stink to start new schools and make new friends, but I do think there are some benefits to that experience for kids in the long run. Although the experience is mostly negative, your kids will become more resilient and be able to adjust to new situations better than kids who are with the same Susies and Johnnys they always knew.

TMA

October 2nd, 2009
9:49 am

I hate to remind people, but this is the result of rapid growth in this county. The influx of people is astounding here in Gwinnett. Luckily, none of my children are affected since they are all at SGHS for the 2010 school year.

DB

October 2nd, 2009
10:10 am

It can be hard on the kids — I went to seven different schools before I was in 8th grade, just through job changes, moving, etc. (We sound like itinerent farm workers, but my dad was pretty much fast-tracked in his job.) But the kids adapt — usually far more easily than the adults. I was in Richmond during busing in the late 60s/early 70s, and my best friend was just on the other side of the “line”, and ended up having to get on a bus at 6:00 am to ride an hour on the other side of town in the name of racial equality. I can see where it would be very annoying to purchase a house thinking you were in one district, and then have the rug pulled out from under you.

One of the effects of my numerous schools was a heightened desire for stability for my own kids. As a result, my kids had almost TOO much stability — they were at the same school for 13 years!! Going to college was, for them, their first change of school. They adjusted just fine, but my daughter occasionally wondered what it would be like to go to a different school, just for a change!

CRICKET HIIL

October 2nd, 2009
10:14 am

Split Feeding is where elementary school kids are sent to different middle schools. In our case, a small portion of kids are sent to one middle school while the majority of other kids go to another. We had
big problems with it. Since the county has “permissive transfers” , which you will here a lot about them later, our area has kids in two
different schools. I know two families that had kids in two different
middle schools. It’s still a very touchy issue around here.

Good luck.

deidre_NC

October 2nd, 2009
11:09 am

i think the only way to avoid redistricting or whatever is to live in an area that is not a huge growth area like gwinett has been for years…my 2 older kids went to school in ga and had to change schools a cuople of times for these reasons…(in alpharetta several years ago) my younger 2 have gronw up here in a very rural area in the nc mountains…started school (pre-k) and ended up with the same kids and the same building…from pre-k to graduation!! it has its pros and cons…i think its great for kids to have the opportunity to meet new friends…have a different peer pool to pick from…mine didnt have that here (the 2 younger ones) and they wanted it…i am not all about moving 5-8 times during a kids school career….thats a lot…but one or two moves…i just dont see what the big deal is…it didnt hurt me and it didnt hurt my older ones…you have to realize when you move to a high growth area these things are gonna happen….make it an adventure for your kids and maybe they will have an adventure!…when it happened to me and my older kids it was just a thing…not even really discussed except for maybe oh dang so and so doesnt get to go to the new school…it really never was looked on a a bad thing…

deidre_NC

October 2nd, 2009
11:11 am

wow sorry to all the typo police..my last post was awful with typos lol

No Habla ingles

October 2nd, 2009
11:37 am

I no pay tax, but tinks para free school & lunch. Me have no dinero. my familia cause mucho problemas in county de Gwinnett. Mi amore dis County. I have much familia coming to county and school and learning to make more crowded escuelas. Muchas Gracias

b

October 2nd, 2009
11:41 am

Our oldest was redistricted twice, once in middle school and once for high school. Both times it was to a newly built school and we were very happy to get out of an overcrowded school where so many classes were in trailers. The middle school was a very easy transition and there were no problems. The high school was led by an awesome principal and it has become one of the premier high schools in Georgia.

Unfortunately, as our youngest was approaching high school, a new high school was being built and another redistricting plan was drawn up. We would have been fine if the plan was to go to the new high school (wasn’t going to happen as our subdivision is far north of the school), but instead of dividing the areas into kids going the new school and the rest staying at their original school, the Board decided to take kids out of their original school and send them to older schools. Think about that: at a new school everyone is new and the effort to welcome the students, build a school community is there. Instead a very small group, about 120 students, are forced to go to a school that does not have the same academic achievements, they stick out like sore thumbs as they haven’t been part of feeder teams, their middle school wasn’t part of the cluster so they know very few people, and additionally the traffic is awful so getting to school is a 45 minute drive instead of 10 minutes.

In our case, the decision was quite easy. I made the effort to contact the school we were redistricted to asking about the programs offered as we have a child with learning disabilities. Although they had the basics, the programs that we were expecting from our original school were not offered and we would have to settle for what they had to offer. Our decision: private school. With the lottery in Fulton, hardship waivers were unlikely and we did not want to take the chance.

IMO redistricting to a new school is fine, but do not try and send kids to established schools, especially those that do not perform as high academically as the original school, do not have the same programs, and have worse disciplinary problems.

motherjanegoose

October 2nd, 2009
12:22 pm

We bought our house new in the Gwinnett Collins Hill cluster. Both of my children started at Walnut Grove. My daughter moved in 2nd grade to Rock Springs. At the time, the principal was Cheryl Wilson, who IMHO is one of the most wonderful elementary principals I have ever met. Many parents grumbled that Rock Springs was NOT Walnut Grove…no it was and isn’t. While Walnut Grove is a great school, we LOVED our time at Rock Springs and it gave my daughter many wonderful memories.

She got to go to a brand new school and had a wonderful time. She attended 3 different elementary schools, as we moved out here when she was in Kinder. ( not out here anymore LOL).

I WOULD be angry if my children had to be bussed and I moved into the neighborhood specifically for the schools. This happened when I was growing up in Chicago and parents often caused a big stink….sorry folks but if I am paying the taxes for a home in block A, I do not want my kids bussed an hour to block M….maybe it is just me.

Lori

October 2nd, 2009
1:26 pm

I agree about the long bus rides. I wouldn’t mind the redistricting, but kids should always get to go to the closest school to where they live. But they do stupid things and redistrict based on quotas, and everyone ends up all over. The public school system needs some common sense added to it.

Common sense in a school system????

October 2nd, 2009
1:34 pm

That is like common sense at the Corp of Engineers and Lake Lanier – “We read the guage and it said too much water was NOT being released”. Then, “oops, the guage was broken and we did not know it”. After last weeks deluge of rain they were STILL letting water out of the lake DESPITE SERIOUS FLOODING downstream from the lake. They said “we only let out minimal amounts so that could not have caused the flooding” – well, DUH, but it sure added to it. Their rational was “but that is what the judge decreed so we had to do it”. Just like the re-districting guidelines, “we have to do it ’cause we said so”! GGGGRRRRRR

Patrick

October 2nd, 2009
1:45 pm

I like the idea of being “grandfathered” in, if your child is presently attending a school whose district no longer includes your home, can still attend until graduation, or until your family moves, whichever comes first.

What we really need is school choice, and that where you live shouldn’t dictate where you can send you children to school. You should be allowed to send your children wherever you want to enroll them.

Cricket, we had split feeding at the elementary school I went to. I think it ended up being that way at all the elementary schools in Rockdale County, where I finished elementary and went to middle and high school. Out of all the kids in my 5th grade class, I think only a handful ended up going to the same middle school as I, along with a friend who was in another 5th grade class. The other two-thirds went to one or both of the other two middle schools. I didn’t see some of them again until when we all entered high school.

d

October 2nd, 2009
2:09 pm

After 16 years, GCPS is finally fixing a mistake at the south end of the county. I started at Shiloh in 1993, but was redistricted to South Gwinnett after my freshman year. I was grandfathered in and allowed to stay at Shiloh, but my two younger sisters were not given the choice and were bussed past every school in the Shiloh cluster to attend Snellville Middle and South Gwinnett. The new maps finally put the subdivision I grew up in back to Shiloh due to the construction of the new Snell Elementary. Thanks GCPS for finally getting at least one thing right.

Shaneneeee Faneneeeeeee

October 2nd, 2009
6:39 pm

Obama is corrupt kids, think really hard about why he flew all the way to Denmark for a couple of hours to try and get the Olymics. It is because him and his corrupt budies were going to profit big time from this event in Chicago. Ask yourself this question from the guy who says he is going to unite us, if Dallas or Miami were the choices would he have been there? No, absolutely not. Corruption 101 at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

deidre_NC

October 2nd, 2009
7:16 pm

i dont think places really profit from the olympics…at least everything i have ever read says they dont…atlanta didnt…maybe sities used to but now they spend so much money building structures for it it ends up being a loss…

fk

October 2nd, 2009
8:40 pm

I’m not in Gwinnett, but have experienced a similar pattern with school redistricting. The elementary school has been redistricted 3x since we’ve lived here, almost 17 years. Our n’hood was unaffected.

However, the middle school was redistricted when my son was in the 7th grade. He wound up going to the new school…and it was the best thing that could’ve happened. The new principal was awesome and had hired a terrific staff. And, the principal at his former middle school, who was very much liked, accepted a new assignment elsewhere. My son grew tremendously in middle school and met good friends, with whom he is still friendly, despite the fact that they are all away at different colleges, and attended different high schools. He never would have met these kids if he had not be redistricted.

There is a brand new high school here, that just opened in August. The students had the option to stay at their old one, but a lot of n’hood kids are attending the new school. Kids are resilient.

FCM

October 2nd, 2009
9:38 pm

Y’all are making me glad I rent. That way I don’ t have to dump a house to keep the school I want.

I agree with Patrick. School choice. That and let the parents pay, but get tax credit for the payment, creating a competition among the schools–just like college!

All that said. The best you can do for your child is to listen to them. Keep routines at home as close to the same as possible. Encourage them to see this change as an opportunity to do even better.

GWT parent

October 3rd, 2009
12:33 am

Your kids are in 1st and K? If redistricting is traumatic for them, I fear for them.

lwa

October 3rd, 2009
9:16 am

Before everyone get all upset over a new school, just remember a few things.

1. The school is “great” because of teachers, parents and students. With new schools opening, the teachers from the existing schools have 1st choice to move to a new school, so they won’t be at the original school any more. Also, those friends of your kids may also be moving.

2. You should be able to be grandfathered in at your current school. You will have to provide transportation, but that is not a problem for a lot of people….. I am not assuming that everyone stays home. However, if you work, there are day care centers that will transport kids in the morning to school from the center and you can pick them up in the afternoon from the same center.

3. In Cobb Cty. we went through redistricting last year. If a student remained at a school (after not choosing the new school) then their sibling could attend the school also as long as the sibling was enrolled. Example: Jr. year student decided to remain at current school. During his Sr. year, his sister was a freshman. She could either attend the new High School after redistricting or attend the previous school with her brother. She choose the old HS.

Change can be good. We were redistricted to a new HS in Cobb County. The new school was great. All the latest technology, etc. That year, the calculus class had 3 students…. better than private school numbers.

So I say, keep your kids at the old school. I will send mine to the new school and enjoy small classroom sizes.

How do we teach our kids to accept change when we aren’t willing to be objectionable about it.

hlb

October 3rd, 2009
11:53 am

Teresa you seem to be very concerned about which elementary school your children attend. What are you going to do when your children have to breath the same air at middle school as my poor uneducated Knight Elementary children?