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School board weighs redistricting
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The Effingham County Board of Education began reviewing options to change district lines for Guyton Elementary, Marlow Elementary and Sand Hill Elementary schools.

The board is planning to move students to Sand Hill from the other two schools. Sand Hill is currently having additions to the school that will be complete in the spring.

“It’s time to start looking at what we want to start doing with some elementary schools,” Superintendent Randy Shearouse said. “As the board knows, we built 12 classrooms on to Sand Hill, and looking at those numbers now Sand Hill has about 451 students. So that’s going to allow us to put more students at Sand Hill.”

Shearouse said Guyton Elementary is becoming more crowded, and Marlow Elementary is already crowded. There are also many subdivisions being built in the Marlow area that will impact the school.

“We’re going to look at the numbers, and we’re going to take our time going through this process,” Shearouse said.
Transportation Coordinator Jimmy Helmly presented three options to the board for the redistricting.

Helmly gave the board the number of students at all the elementary schools as of Nov. 5. All the school except for Sand Hill and Rincon has capacity for 750 students. Sand Hill currently has capacity for 550 students, but will have capacity for 750 when the addition is complete. Rincon has a capacity for 650 students.

• Blandford Elementary has 680 students
• Ebenezer Elementary has 570 students
• Guyton Elementary has 706 students
• Marlow Elementary has 707 students
• Rincon Elementary has 575 students
• Sand Hill Elementary has 451 students
• South Effingham Elementary has 598 students
• Springfield Elementary has 628 students

Shearouse told the board that the schools are not perfect numbers.

“Even though you may have 750 capacity, if you go through that school every classroom may be full because you may have some classrooms with 12 and some with 15,” he said. “Then on top of that, you add programs like special education with five or six students, or you have reading recovery with one student in a class. That takes up a lot of classroom space. It looks there are big numbers there and there is plenty of room, but in reality if you walk through, most classrooms are taken.”

Helmly said he would like to see approximately 100 students shifted from Guyton to Sand Hill and approximately 50 students shifted from Marlow to Sand Hill.

“With the increase of capacity at Sand Hill to 750, if you look at what we’re projecting for August ’08 all the schools will be in the 600 range,” Helmly said. “It would give us growth at all the schools.”

Helmly said there are many subdivisions being built that currently would send students to Guyton and Marlow.
Shearouse said at that point Blandford would be the largest school.

“Sand Hill needs more students,” he said.

Helmly said there are three scenarios for the board to consider. Originally he had given the board six options, but reduced the options to three after examining the numbers.

“I went back and looked at the areas and tried to get as close to the 150 that we want as I could,” Helmly said.
He said the first proposal would take 90 students from Guyton and 43 students from Marlow.

“The Guyton students would come from Pineora,” Helmly said. “We’re trying to clean up the lines in what we call downtown Pineora. We have Third Street there that one side of the street goes to Sand Hill, and the other side of the street goes to Guyton.”

Helmly said the same type of situation has occurred around the old railroad tracks as well where one side goes to Guyton and the other side of Highway 17 goes to Sand Hill. There would be 20 students from the Pineora area moved to Sand Hill.

Warner Fields subdivision where residents in the subdivision go to Guyton, and those whose driveways come to Midland Road go to Marlow would be moved to Sand Hill.

Other areas affected would be Castle Wood subdivision, the Courthouse Road area from Midland to Azalea Point, Lonesome Oak Subdivision, Victoria Oaks, Bent Tree and Marlow Road where it extends to Highway 17.

Helmly said the second proposal would include all of the areas in the first proposal, and also include students on Honey Ridge Road and in Honey Ridge Estates.

Helmly said the second proposal would move 149 students.

“When we look at the district lines, we try to find some type of geographic feature that helps us designate the lines,” he said. “There is a creek that crosses Honey Ridge Road and Highway 17 would help us designate the district lines in that area. We’re moving the same 43 students from the Marlow area. In this third proposal, we move 106 students from Guyton.”

Helmly said students from around the ball complex in Pineora, Watts Road, Floyd Avenue out to 17, Warner Fields, Castlewood and Lonesome Oak would be moved.

“The boundary line would end on Courthouse Road at the County Landfill Road,” Helmly said.

Board member James Dasher asked when it comes to transportation would there be anyone duplicating paths.
Helmly said he likes proposal number three.

“We propose that we can do this change without adding any buses,” Helmly said. “At the present time on the Courthouse Road we are running K-12 buses. With Sand Hill being an earlier school than Guyton we could double route those drivers, and let them run an elementary route to Sand Hill turn around come back to Courthouse and run a middle-high, which would get the elementary students off the high school bus in this area.”

Helmly said in the Pineora area there would only be a quarter of a mile added to the route of the busses that already travel to Sand Hill.

“Students in Victoria Oaks would come down and cut over, their ride would probably shorten,” he said. He said other bus rides would shorten as well.

Shearouse said he felt there should be a public hearing on the redistricting. He suggested a night meeting in January.

He also said the information about the affected areas could be placed on the school system’s Web site.