School board approves rezoning

The Richmond County school board on Tuesday night approved two rezoning plans that will relieve overcrowding in separate parts of the county next school year.


Without any discussion, the board unanimously agreed to both plans. The first will send more than 100 students zoned for the Academy of Richmond County to Laney and Josey high schools, both of which are under-enrolled.

Richmond Academy is at 104 percent capacity and would have reached 120 percent had no action been taken. Laney is at 69 percent and will move to 83 percent. Josey is at 76 percent and will drop to 67 percent despite the zoning change, largely because of the closing of housing projects that feed into the school.

Tuesday's action affects some high school students who live in zones for Bayvale and Milledge elementary schools.

Rising seniors who were zoned to attend Richmond Academy can ask to remain at the school.

In another vote, the board approved rezoning the middle schools in south Richmond County to accommodate the opening of Pine Hill Middle School in August.

Pine Hill will draw pupils from Sego, Spirit Creek and Hephzibah middle schools.

In other business:

- The board approved reorganizing its public safety department. The move creates a tiered system with ranks so officers have opportunities for advancement. The action removed Public Safety Director Julia Porter-Stein from her position. She will become the senior internal affairs investigator, a new position.

Ms. Porter-Stein has been with the school system for more than 21 years and has served as the head of public safety since 2001.

- The board hired James Whitson to become deputy superintendent effective July 1. He now serves as assistant superintendent in Sumter County and will replace James Thompson, who is retiring.

- The board approved a policy allowing non-public school students to participate in its all-county orchestra. The policy requires the students to pay a fee and meet the same musical standards as public school students.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or