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NCSS plans '11 rezoning of schools

COVINGTON — The Newton County School System is already planning to rezone its elementary schools for the 2011-12 school year.

Deputy Superintendent Dennis Carpenter told members of the Newton County Board of Education during their monthly work session Tuesday night that NCSS plans to rezone its elementary schools next school year due to several factors:

• the opening of a new 1,500-student elementary school on Airport Road;

• the phasing out of two elementary schools from state funding;

• decreasing enrollment at some elementary schools and increasing enrollment at others.

An enrollment report hasn't yet been released by NCSS for this school year, but the final enrollment report for the 2009-10 school year showed that 9,559 students were enrolled in the system's 14 elementary schools, down 87 students from the previous school year.

Construction crews already have begun building the county's 15th elementary school on Airport Road near Ga. Highway 142, which is expected to be complete in time for next school year. In February, NCSS announced that it planned to phase out Ficquett and Palmer Stone elementary schools from state inventory over the next few years — the buildings could continue to operate as schools but would not receive state funding for repair costs.

The process of rezoning the elementary schools will begin this month and continue until at least January, according to a timeline developed by NCSS.

"We hopefully will have this ironed out and ready by the end of January (2011)," Carpenter said.

Starting later this month and continuing until mid-September, the school system will review student enrollment and building capacities within each elementary attendance zone and outline the elementary rezoning possibilities based on the data.

From mid-September until the first of November, a rezoning committee — consisting of district office staff and elementary school principals whose schools could potentially be involved in the rezoning — will meet at least biweekly to develop, discuss and reach a consensus on a recommendation to present to the school board in November.

During the process, the committee will consider the maintenance of established feeder school assignments, student demographics and current instructional programs, the current capacity at each elementary school, student proximity to schools and student population growth within current attendance zones.

After reviewing and possibly revising the plan in November, the school board aims to approve a rezoning plan at its Dec. 14 combined work session and monthly meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the board room at the Newton County BOE building at 2109 Newton Drive NE in Covington.

In January, NCSS plans to hold public meetings to explain the criteria and procedures for rezoning, present the new attendance zones and answer questions.

NCSS middle and high schools were rezoned this school year to handle overcrowding.