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School system to host redistricting forums

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Clayton County school officials are planning to open Mt. Zion Primary School this fall to ease overcrowding at neighboring elementary schools, which means some attendance lines will have to be changed.

The new primary school, which will only house kindergartners, first-and second-graders, will be located on the same property as Mt. Zion Elementary School. The elementary school will house third-through-fifth-graders as a result.

The new school will affect the student populations at Jackson and Smith elementary schools. Both will lose portions of their existing boundaries, which will move 542 of their students to Mt. Zion primary and elementary schools. R.T. Smith Elementary will also lose an estimated 300 students, while Jackson Elementary School is expected to lose roughly 242 pupils.

"It's reasonable to think all three campuses, at the end of the day, will be modular-free within a couple of years," said Ronnie Watts, the school system's director of construction.

The school system will host two public forums on redistricting for the four schools on Wednesday, at 11:30 a.m., and 6:30 p.m., at the district's Central Administration Complex, 1058, Fifth Ave., Jonesboro.

The meetings are designed to let parents of students at the affected schools ask questions, and offer feedback to school officials.

The feedback collected at these meetings will be presented to the board of education at its Feb. 25 work session. The board is presently scheduled to vote on adopting the new boundaries for the four schools on March 3.

"You'll ultimately have some breathing room at Jackson Elementary, at Mt. Zion Elementary, and at Smith Elementary," Watts said. "Everybody will be in a classroom."

Jackson Elementary was designed to hold roughly 720 students, but there are 993 pupils enrolled in the school this year.

A 12-classroom expansion is also being designed for Jackson, which will increase its capacity to 900 students. Watts said the ideal opening date for the classroom addition is the summer of 2009, but he said nothing is set in stone, because it is still being designed.

Mount Zion Elementary is currently exceeding its capacity of 700 students by roughly 200 pupils. Adding the primary school will give the two facilities a combined capacity of 1,600 students.

The elementary school's capacity will increase by 150 students. Mt. Zion Primary will have room for 750 students. A total of 680 students is expected to come to the school from the three existing schools during the 2008-2009 school year.

Smith Elementary, which is designed to house about 700 students, currently exceeds capacity by roughly 300 pupils.

The school's capacity will also be affected by a 12-classroom addition, which is scheduled to open in November. The addition will expand the school's capacity to 900 students, leaving the school roughly 200 students below capacity.