Pupils could move earlier

Some rising ninth-graders in the Columbia County school system might get rezoned to another high school a year ahead of schedule.

School board members have said they plan to hold public hearings and finalize a complete high school rezoning plan this spring as they prepare for the 2009 opening of Grovetown High School on Chamblin Road.

Superintendent Charles Nagle said he intends to seek final approval at Tuesday's board meeting for a proposed rezoning of "pocket" areas for the 2008-09 school year.

This rezoning would shift some rising ninth-graders away from schools in which they are now zoned to the high schools they likely will attend once a more comprehensive rezoning takes place. That would allow those freshmen to attend the same school throughout high school.

"We think that would make sense," Mr. Nagle said.

Board member Mike Sleeper said the superintendent told the board the areas likely to be rezoned are around Hereford Farm, Louisville and Flowing Wells roads. He said about 10 to 15 pupils in each area would be affected.

Mr. Nagle, who expects to receive a report from staff members about the rezoning today, would not offer specifics.

The board approved a rezoning plan for its middle schools, which affected more than 1,100 pupils, in January in preparation for the August opening of Stallings Island Middle School on Blackstone Camp Road.

"Nothing is going to change in the middle schools. That's done," Mr. Nagle said. "We're looking at pockets of students that may go to some of the high schools."

The school system is not required to hold public hearings for rezonings, Mr. Nagle and Mr. Sleeper said. Mr. Nagle said public hearings have been held "as a courtesy" during other rezoning proceedings.

He said administrators need to make plans for the coming school year.

"If we're going to do something, we need to get information to the students for registration purposes," Mr. Nagle said.

School officials have said the high-school rezoning will follow the middle-school plan to create a common system.

Mr. Sleeper said details such as transportation and athletic eligibility still need to be worked out for the pocket rezoning. He also said officials need to decide whether students in other grades could go to a new school next year and whether allowances would be made for families who would have children at different high schools.

Mr. Sleeper said letters likely would be sent to families in these areas to notify them of the new school zones.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (706) 868-1222, ext. 113, or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.com.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Columbia County Board of Education meeting

WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday

WHERE: Columbia County school system central office, 4781 Hereford Farm Road, Evans