By Amy Wenk

Although the Fulton County Board of Education (FCBE) has approved the final attendance zone redistricting plan for the Sandy Springs elementary schools, the plan may not go off without a hitch.

At the board’s Feb. 21 meeting, the FCBE discussed delaying the opening of the Ison Road Elementary until 2010, despite taking a final unanimous vote to approve the redistricting plan that calls for its completion in 2009.

The recommendation came about after FCBE staff revised the priority list for Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) III projects using an updated enrollment forecast and a new process for analyzing the space needs of schools.

“In February, the board was presented a new priority plan for SPLOST III based on a current analysis of need (growth) and cash flow,” said FCBE District 3 Rep. Gail Dean. “Although this has been proposed, it has not yet been approved.”

The data released shows the addition of Lake Forrest Elementary, which is currently under construction, will alleviate classroom need significantly when it opens in 2008. The number of classrooms needed drops from just under 60 in 2007 to 38 in 2008. However, forecasted enrollment for 2008 and 2009 does not warrant the construction of a second school until 2010.

“Staff has attempted to use the same measurements throughout the county to analyze need,” said Patrick Burke, executive director of operational planning. “The Ison Road school is needed based on the analysis methodology that we use which looks at projected classroom need. When it gets to a point of about 46 classrooms over the regional need, that is when we kick in that next school. It provided an opportunity to look at that school opening in 2010 and meeting that need and that population.”

Dean, who represents Sandy Springs schools, opposed delaying Ison Road.

“We have just completed the redistricting of Sandy Springs elementary schools based on [Ison Road] coming out in 2009,” Dean said. “It was a great process. It won’t be so smooth when you tell the community that it will come out in 2010. “

Dean argued to keep Ison Road on schedule noting the tremendous community involvement and the progress of a Community Construction Advisory Committee for the proposed school. The committee met last week to address environmental compliance at the Ison Road site.

“It’s too political to tell the community right now we are doing this and then right now we aren’t,” she said. “We need to look at the other factors going into the Ison Road delay. I would like to continue to discuss this before we pull the plug.”

If the revised SPLOST III priority list is approved, students from Dunwoody Springs Charter, Woodland Charter and Spalding Drive Charter elementary schools, who would have transferred to Ison Road in fall 2009, will be delayed a year. This includes Spalding students living in all areas emptying onto Morgan Falls Road, including those at Harbor Pointe, as well as Woodland students northwest of Roswell Road who live in Barrington Canyon, Colonial Grand, Grogans Bluff, Huntcliff, Jasmine, Spring Creek and Windridge.

Woodland students on both sides of Pitts Road between Roswell Road and GA-400, including Shadow Pines, Park at Dunwoody and Dunwoody Point, would also be delayed. Additionally, Dunwoody Charter students who live south of Dunwoody Place Drive and west of GA-400 would relocate to Ison Road Elementary in fall 2010. Neighborhoods included in this area are Legacy Key, Northridge Crossing, Emperian/Northridge, Dunwoody Springs and Alara.

A pdf version of the approved redistricting plan is available at www.ReporterNewsapapers.net.