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Posted: March 19, 2010 12:01 a.m.

High school attendance zones amended

For many Newton and Eastside high school students, there will be a major change in the 2010-2011 school year, namely, which high school they will be zoned to attend.

The Newton County Board of Education voted 3-2 — with board members Almond Turner and Eddie Johnson opposed — to approve Superintendent Dr. Steve Whatley’s recommendation for establishing new attendance zones for the 2010-2011 school year.

According to the recommendation, the board took a number of factors into consideration when re-drawing the lines for attendance zones, including the recent classroom additions to Alcovy High School and the capacity versus the number of current and projected students at EHS and NHS, the growth in zones and feeder school assignments and, when possible, the proximity to the high schools.

"I just feel that we could have drawn the lines a little differently," said Turner. "I think we could have moved a lot more students around and moved the [attendance] lines in different places… I am just not pleased with the way those lines were drawn," he said. "I think there was some density in some certain locations that we didn’t take into account and I have a problem with that."

Currently there are 1,663 students at AHS, 1,316 at EHS and 2,376 at NHS. With the new
attendance zones, Alcovy, which has a capacity of 2,500, will have a proposed 2,225; Eastside has a capacity of 1,375 and will have a proposed 1,320 students and Newton, which has a capacity of 2,075, will have a proposed 1,950 students.

"I think the challenge we have is an issue of density on the western side of the county," said board member Dr. C.C. Bates. "But we have to make accommodations for where the population resides and I think that is a challenge we face when those lines are drawn."

The number of students affected by the rezoning lines is 513 with 132 being current eighth grade students moving into the ninth grade in the 2010-2011 school year. Incoming freshman will attend the high school that they are zoned for but students who will be in tenth grade and above in the 2010-2011 school year will be given the option of choice.

Johnson argued that allowing for choice placed an unfair burden on administrators.

"I recognize the density but I don’t think we can use density in this case," said Johnson.

Current ninth through 11th grade students will be permitted to stay at their current school as long as they have no disciplinary problems and can provide their own transportation to and from school.

Letters with a deadline to be returned will be sent to students in the affected rezoning area, informing them of the change and the one-time option for choice and the conditions required to quality. Only those completed letters and forms that are received by the deadline set will be considered.

A complete list of street names and numbers that will be affected by rezoning can be viewed with this story at CovNews.com

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