By Amy Wenk

The Fulton County Board of Education (FCBE) approved the final attendance zones for Sandy Springs elementary schools without discussion at their Feb. 12 work session.

“It’s been pretty quiet in the boardroom,” said Patrick Burke, the system’s executive director of operational planning. “We’ve had so much (discussion) so far. We try to get engaged early in the community and have several opportunities for engagement prior to going to the board.”

After months of discussion, the FCBE finalized a recommendation for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 Sandy Springs elementary school attendance zones after the first readings at the Jan. 8 and Jan. 17 meetings. Since last reported, one adjustment to the Lake Forrest and Heards Ferry attendance zones has been made. The changes affect six students.

“The board requested one small adjustment,” Burke said. “There was a part of an area west of Lake Forrest Drive that was being rezoned to Lake Forrest and it only impacted a handful of students, so the board required staff to look at that for modification.”

The redistricting is necessary due to the opening of two new elementary schools in Sandy Springs, which are being built to relieve overcrowding at existing schools. One school, currently under construction at the intersection of Lake Forrest and Cliftwood Drives, will open for the 2008-09 school year. The second, to be built on Ison Road, is still in the planning/design phase and is scheduled to open in August 2009. Existing elementary schools include Dunwoody Springs Charter, Heards Ferry, High Point, Spalding Drive Charter and Woodland Charter.

The redistricting process began in October when staff held a series of facilitated public forums for the purpose of gathering community input related to board-approved criteria. Each of the three forums drew crowds of around 250 people. Staff received more than 1,200 comments via e-mail, fax and through the system’s interactive web forum.

“It’s been a good redistricting process; it’s fair,” said FCBE president Julia Bernath in a Jan. 28 interview. “It’s a community-driven process that is both logical and sensible. I’m pleased with the plan, because I hear the community is pleased and it is my job to make sure the community is taken care of.”

The Final Plan

Heards Ferry students who will attend Lake Forrest for the 2008-09 school year will include areas east of Lake Forrest Drive between Mt. Vernon and I-285 and west of Boylston Drive. Students in the areas emptying onto Northwood Drive, including Sierra Place and Highland Circle, will also attend Lake Forrest in the fall. Heards Ferry students who live in the areas east of Boylston Drive, including Hammond Hills, will attend High Point Elementary School in the fall.

High Point students who live in all areas emptying onto Lake Placid Drive, east and west of Roswell Road, including Caliber Springs, Charleston Square, Lake Placid and The Mission, will attend Lake Forrest in 2008. Additionally, students in areas emptying onto Carpenter Drive, east of Roswell Road, and all areas along Roswell Road north of Maryeanna Drive will attend Lake Forrest. Neighborhoods included in this area are Park Terrace and Southern Trace.

Spalding Drive Charter Elementary students will be split among Heards Ferry, Ison Road and Woodland Charter Elementary. The first round of students to transfer to Heards Ferry in fall 2008 will include those living east of the intersection of Colewood Way and River Valley Road and west of Johnson Ferry Road, including those at Montaire Estates.

Spalding students headed for Woodland Charter in fall 2009 include those who live in the complexes to the east of Roswell Road and south of Spalding Drive, including The Lodge at Sandy Springs. Additionally, students north of Trowbridge Road, including the Commons at Victoria, Dunwoody Square, Princeton Falls, Victoria Heights and Victoria Parks, are also bound for Woodland in fall 2009.

Spalding students living in all areas emptying onto Morgan Falls Road, including those at Harbor Pointe, will transfer to Ison Road in fall 2009.

All students transferring from Woodland will attend Ison Road starting in fall 2009. Woodland students northwest of Roswell Road who live in Barrington Canyon, Colonial Grand, Grogans Bluff, Huntcliff, Jasmine, Spring Creek and Windridge will be transferred. Additionally, those on both sides of Pitts Road between Roswell Road and GA-400, including Shadow Pines, Park at Dunwoody and Dunwoody Point, will also have to transfer to Ison Road.

Dunwoody Charter students who live south of Dunwoody Place Drive and west of GA-400 will relocate to Ison Road Elementary in fall 2009. Neighborhoods included in this area are Legacy Key, Northridge Crossing, Emperian/Northridge, Dunwoody Springs and Alara.

The Next Steps

The FCBE was scheduled to take a final vote on the issue at its Feb. 21 meeting. The item was on the consent agenda and was expected to pass unchanged. (The outcome from this vote was not available before Reporter Newspapers went to press.)

“Once they pass this item, we’ll begin notifying parents impacted by the attendance boundary changes for next fall,” Burke said. “Those parents will start receiving notices in March.”

Burke added that rising fifth-graders will have an option to stay at their current school if parents provide transportation.

“They do have to meet a deadline to exercise this option,” he said. This information will be included with the March notices.

Additionally, the FCBE plans to start interviewing for the principal at Lake Forrest, followed by other staff positions, in the spring. They will also look to area Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) to share financing to start a new Lake Forrest PTA, as well as consider colors and a mascot for the school. A naming committee will soon be formed to do historical research, as well as look at nearby landmarks, local families and other historic figures.

“Naming the school at the Lake Forrest site will be a community-driven effort,” Bernath said.

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