Cobb school system contemplates largest redistricting in county history

Parents and students in Cobb County soon will face a change of attendance boundaries as the school system contemplates the largest redistricting in its history.

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.

Benosky will be among the parents who turn out to critique the plans at a forum at Campbell High School Wednesday night. A similar forum was scheduled for Tuesday night at Pebblebrook High School. The school system has two redistricting proposals and has posted maps of each on its website, www.cobbk12.org.  The school board is expected to approve a plan in February.

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.

Many of the changes will occur in school board member David Morgan's south Cobb area. He said Tuesday he'd gotten about 20 emails from parents, many concerned about the closing of Sky View. He said the shift has to occur so that kids who spend their days in trailers at crowded schools can move into real school buildings that are under-used.

People are emotional about the changes and justifiably so, he said. They're attached to their schools. "Inevitably, some parents won't be happy."