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School redistricting on hold
BOE postpones decision until 2012
Charles Wilson mug
Charles Wilson

A decision to alter transportation zones for some Bulloch County elementary schools will not be rendered prior to the start of the 2011-2012 school year.
The Bulloch County Board of Education voted to delay action on the zoning changes in its April 14 meeting, according to Haley Greene, spokesperson for Bulloch County Schools.
The proposed zoning plan – an attempt to reconfigure zoning lines to more evenly distribute students in six of the county’s elementary schools – was delayed until next year, to allow affected schools and families more time to prepare for and understand changes.
“A couple of members thought [the board] should move forward with the proposed zoning changes, but the majority felt as though they needed additional information and review of the financial and structural impact before they could endorse a decision,” said School Board member Edwin Hill. “The decision was made to push the issue forward a year to completely resolve any questions raised by board members.”
After an initial decision by school officials to begin the process of rezoning in 2010, Bulloch County Schools Business and Finance personnel formulated a plan and presented it to board members in multiple meetings this year – beginning with a county-wide work session in February.
Wanting more detailed information regarding changes and how each school would be affected, board members repeatedly tabled a vote prior to delaying the motion.
“Based on the comments made, my impression is that the board would like to do more analysis,” said Charles Wilson, assistant superintendent for Bulloch County Schools. “Based on questions asked and discussions had, it seems as though members of the board would like to further evaluate all of our options and how to best implement changes.”
 The proposition to modify existing transportation zones for elementary schools is a remedy for disproportional student populations, said Wilson.
The recently constructed Sallie Zetterower Elementary School is currently under-utilized – as the new Mattie Lively facility once it opens in January 2012. Other schools that would have been affected by proposed new zones – Julia P. Bryant, Langston Chapel, Mill Creek and Brooklet – are currently operating above ideal capacities.
New zones would move students from each of the over-utilized schools into the new, larger facilities and balance student populations, said Wilson.
The transfer of students would allow schools currently operating at more than 80 percent capacity – Mill Creek, Brooklet and Langston Chapel – to function more efficiently and be ideally utilized, he said. 
According to Bulloch County Schools Superintendent Lewis Holloway, about 250 students would be affected by new transportation zones – it is estimated that at least 150 would switch schools, he said.
Only bus-riding students would be affected. Parents wanting their student to remain at a current school would be given the option of providing alternate transportation.
“We will continue to work on the plans, but we have many other demanding issues,” said Wilson about moving forward with rezoning. “We will probably put this on a back-seat for a little while and come back to it later. There are still a lot of questions that need to be asked before we finish this process.”
“I suspect that this will be a topic that [the board] will continue to discuss so we will be prepared to move forward with a plan next year,” said Hill. “The issue is a work in progress and we just want to get it right.”
According to Hill, implementation of any transportation changes may be effective beginning Fall 2012. A decision would be rendered well in advance, he said, so those affected would have time to prepare.

Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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