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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Letter To The Editor.

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Letter in Opposition to the Final High School Redistricting Plan for Board Consideration.


Dr. Loe, Board Members and FCSS Administrators,


As you know we have been active in the FCSS and have tried to support the school system and our community over the last several years. With regard to the new Bethany Bend High School, we were two of three parents who wrote and spoke at a zoning meeting in support of the FCSS's construction of the new high school. We were later told that without community support from the three of us, the FCSS would have "crashed and burned". Moreover, we have tried to instill confidence in the FCSS redistricting process and confidence in the Board through conversations with parents and newspaper reporters. Perhaps that is why we find the final redistricting plan, as it relates to Milton High School, inconsistent with the FCSS criteria, unwise given the FCSS goal of creating schools of excellence and as though Milton is being sacrificed to appease surrounding schools.

The fact of the matter is that the FCSS mishandled this redistricting from the start with a pandora's box of potential maps and then caved to the "squeaky wheels" and those who even fought the construction of the new high school. To add insult to injury, this was done to the detriment of Milton High School. With this plan, the entire complexion of Milton High School will change from AP course offerings to the arts to music and sports. It quite simply guts Milton by removing some of the most committed, involved, invested, and active neighborhoods along Birmingham Highway and Freemanville Road (both of which border Milton High School), such as White Columns and Triple Crown, to name a few. Moreover, to move these neighborhoods to "quiet" those who objected to the very construction of the new Bethany Bend High School is beyond the pale. As a parent and community member it is difficult to watch Milton, which has a stellar track record and a principal, who was notably schooled at The Westminster School and University of St. Andrews in Scotland and who is committed to making it among the top high schools in the state, have the rug pulled out from under it. Instead, the FCSS has mishandled this from the start, is throwing away the opportunity to have several "gem" schools in the area and is seriously jeopardizing it's support for SPLOST IV in the process.

Based upon FCSS criteria, which appear to have been disregarded to appease others, we note the following:

1). TRAFFIC: It is undisputed that North Fulton is organized along state and local roads that run north to south and parallel to one another like a long row of vertical lines (Arnold Mill Road, Birmingham Highway, Freemanville Road, Bethany Road and Hopewell Road). However, rather than following these north to south arteries your plan requires parents, students and buses to drive east to west on mostly one lane back roads with no shoulder, no guardrails and lined with trees close to the road to get to a school that is in many cases 10 miles away rather than 3 miles away from their home. Additionally, this east west pattern for the high school traffic is inconsistent with the north south bus transportation pattern for the middle school redistricting and the City of Milton traffic planning and road construction plans. This will be a traffic nightmare.

2). FUTURE GROWTH: Based upon the two FCSS power points presented at a Board member community meeting and a Superintendent's Parents Council meeting, the overwhelming majority of projected growth is in the uppermost part of Fulton County. Rather than distributing that growth between Milton and Bethany Bend and follow the north south main roads, ALL of these newly constructed neighborhoods will attend the new Bethany Bend High School. The Milton area, which is far more developed, will be virtually landlocked and its census numbers kept so low that it will be difficult for it to support the AP course offerings needed to keep it a top performing school, not to mention the effect it will have on its ability to earn drama, music, arts instructors, and coaches.

3). COMMUNITY: It is undisputed that the neighborhoods along Birmingham Highway and Freemanville Road have invested time, money and effort working to make Milton the top performing school that it is today. Moreover, we are hearing that these communities OPPOSE the move to Bethany Bend because of concerns about: losing their investment in Milton through parent involvement; losing the high academic standards that are well established at Milton; having children from the same family attending different high schools; new FCSS rules limiting funding/debt for booster clubs(i.e., FCSS is currently requiring high school booster clubs to put down 80% in cash toward capital improvements); increased traffic; and fewer AP course offerings. Moreover, the number of people that will have to make this move against their will is overwhelming. While we have tried to see the FCSS and Board's perspective on issues such as the budget cuts, music funding, reductions in force, retirements, the reorganization of area superintendents and curriculum decisions, this redistricting process has challenged our confidence. On a personal level, it smacks of betrayal. Therefore, we are requesting that the Board reconsider the proposed final plan and retain the neighborhoods along Birmingham Highway and Freemanville Road within the Milton High School attendance zone.

Sincerely, Two Concerned Moms Submitted with permission

POSTSCRIP REQUESTED BY AUTHORS FOR ACCESSMILTON.COM SUBMISSION:

4). THIS PLAN IS INCONSISTENT WITH THE FCSS REDISTRICTING PROCESS: In keeping with the FCSS redistricting guidelines, residents were asked to provide online comments regarding the three proposed maps A, B and C. These comments were then organized as “pros” and “cons” as to each map so that the FCSS could make adjustments. However, the Round 2 comments had approximately twice as many negative comments for Map C as compared to Maps A and B. The approximate break-down is as follows: Map A – 12 pages of cons; Map B - 14 pages of cons; and Map C – 24 pages of cons. As such, the FCSS has adopted the general framework that was LEAST FAVORED by the residents who participated in the process.

Finally, it is important to note that the redistricting maps are prepared at FCSS Central Administration by Yngrid Huff and under the direction of Patrick Burke, COO. They are not prepared by the Board; rather, the Board has the final vote on the map. Our local Board member Katie Reeves has served our community well for 13 years and is our best ally. When speaking her, the Board and others at the FCSS, please be respectful. Our arguments are valid and strong. Personal attacks are unnecessary and not appropriate.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Appears you have placed your eggs in the wrong basket.

Anonymous said...

Let's be honest. Those staying at Milton HS are upset because the demographic mix of their beautiful high school is changing. It may hurt your home values in the short run, but in the long run, the diversity will be good for your kids.

Anonymous said...

Johns Creek High caused same problems with older area schools. ( Northview and Chattahoochee High schools) Gerrymandering is the problem.

Anonymous said...

Who are the "two concerned moms"? Sounds suspicious. More anonymity. Tell us who wrote the letter and give it some credibility Access Milton. I hope the FCSS doesn't take anonymous letters

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous post of 6:05 pm.

Let's also be honest. You are damn right! People moved and invested time and money into their kids education here in Milton. I personally am not a fan of having my tax dollars and personal investment in my children detracted from people living outside the area. And let's also be honest, the people outside the zone now that would be going to Milton in the future would be VERY happy to attend that beautiful school without having made the investments in time and money required to make it what it is. Diversity is great and my two girls are raised with that diversity is a wonderful and necessary part of life. But there isn't a diversity problem on the table here and nothing is being rezoned to improve problems being caused by a lack of diversity. Don't make it an issue that it is clearly not.

-DB

Anonymous said...

Traffic
Traffic
Traffic patterns
Stop trying to make this About class warfare, it is not. Making the west side use the west to east infrastructure is the issue and goes completely against the city of Milton traffic study and plan. Period.

Anonymous said...

Who cares who wrote it. They are one hundred percent correct! It's the message that matters not who. It is credible. Anyone with a brain can see that. You just want a name to pick on them and don't really care about the issue.

Anonymous said...

Damn right! Amen to 9:15 and this letter!

Anonymous said...

If you don't have kids or are retired or you are a commuter, will the diversity in this school you say will be good, be good for me and the traffic nightmare and stress it will put on our infrastructure? This is not only about children attending school, this is about the bigger long term, will be this way forever once it's approved, issue of traffic for everyone!!!

Anonymous said...

Hardly anyone from MHS is staying! Did u actually study the map? MHS will mostly be Roswell, Alpharetta with a dash of Milton. What would Roswell do if they removed most of the kids in their community out of Roswell HS and filled it with kids from Milton and Alpharetta? Do ya think they would rally behind the football games watching Milton kids on their field!

Anonymous said...

The moms leading the fight on this are from Providence National and Harrington Falls, two affluent subdivisions that are seemingly unaffected by east-west traffic on Redd Road and Birmingham Road.

These moms are blasting emails all over Milton warning of the changing "complexion" of Milton HS and the "gang violence" that is a problem in areas rezoned to Milton.

Of course this is a diversity issue.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for answering the question. Someone on this blog is always attacking another person and you can hardly get a straight answer on here.

Anonymous said...

They can try and make it a diversity issue all day long. The FCBOE will not listen or even talk about the diversity issue, so they are wasting their breathe and wasting their emails. No one who really is engaged in this issue, who has a true understanding of the impact not just on this school and the students, but the overall impact of traffic, our City Comprehensive Plan and our Crabapple City Hall center planned, knows the redistricting lines as drawn in this last map are harmful to all of the aformentioned. Take out the student "factor" of who will be going there and who will not, and examine the big picture for what our city has been working hard at trying to accomplish and envision for our community. The FCBOE is driving the boat and they don't own the boat, nor were they invited to ride along. They just forced their way on it and took over.

Is our Mayor and City council going to ever speak up on this issue??

Anonymous said...

I really am concerned about traffic for the reasons stated and others. One of the things I am very concerned about is the amount of south-to-north traffic this will bring into the historic Crabapple five points intersection, an intersection that is already difficult. There is no left turn lane so the back up can easily take you two lights to get through at any time of day. Are there credible plans to fix this intersection? It will be hard to do based on the historic buildings. Also, that whole Crabapple area was developed to be pedestrian friendly. The economic downturn slowed growth, but the amount of traffic that will come through there if all these neighborhoods have to head up Crabapple, through Arnold Mill light, and take a left on Milton.

Anonymous said...

Libs use class warefare and sing diversity to get what they want. It's happening in all forms of government, including schools. Has Roswell achieved their goal of keeping most of their kids in Roswell High School. If Roswell preferred plan A, and Milton preferred plan A or B, then how did we all get plan C? if it looks like a fish, and smells like a fish, it probably stinks!

Anonymous said...

5:29 those damn Libs huh. Are you a polar bear or something? Cmon, come up with another argument.

Anonymous said...

It's a done deal! Time to get beyond the elitism comments and pay attention to the selection of the next superintendent. This "front runner" needs to understand that Fulton is really two districts and the factory model of one size fits all does not work. By the way, Bethany is getting the best of of the high school leadership. Just check what has been accomplished in his tenue at RHS. They are the ones who should be screaming.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Dr. Spurka is a great principal. Was he notably schooled at The Westminster School too?

hornet for life said...

8:09 Don't think as he hails from the keystone state.

Anonymous said...

Not one Milton council member or our mayor has come forward in opposition of this redistricting plan. What a pity.

Forever Plaid said...

Nor did he attend St. Andrews. However, the Bethany band will feature bagpipes and the Milton adminstration will share its kilt wardrobe.

Anonymous said...

Welcome everyone to Milton's new Bethany Bend Over High School.

Anonymous said...

I bet a lot of other residents besides the Freemanville and Birmingham residents put their hard earned money, time and effort into Milton too. A lot of us have a huge stake in MHS, not just this group. Let's just shift the money to the new high school and make it better than Milton.

Anonymous said...

Yes, make it the best BEND OVER school in Georgia.

Anonymous said...

"Complexion" was not a problem when recruiting for basketball!

Anonymous said...

Oh who opened that can of worms! That's a whole nother article for a different day. One iron in the fire at a time people!! It is true though, Gwinnecians in MHS!!

Anonymous said...

It's not a diversity issue for the BOE so why keep beating that drum?

Anonymous said...

The western side of Milton sure enjoys driving the west-east roads to get to WalMart where the complexion is very diverse.

Anonymous said...

One there is a choice to drive in that direction with the option to turn around and go home if traffic is bad, the other is forced upon us to drive to the school, no choice or any other direct or reasonably alternative routes unless u want to drive around the world and back to go around it. Huge difference. Big government bullying at its best.

Anonymous said...

The longer it takes to get to and from school gives you more time to talk on your smart phone, now doesn't it.

Better yet, put the darlings on the big cheese (School Bus)and you stay in your home and talk on that smart phone.

Anonymous said...

Last poster do u have any valid point to the argument other than trying to stir the pot that bears zero credibility in the determination of redistricting lines? Sounds like the east side of Milton, based on your last comment as well, is fearful of going to school with others not in the same or higher income bracket. Why is that? The comment about the smart phones is immature and clearly exposes intent and insecurity over the process.

Anonymous said...

Who's taxes are going to increase to make the necessary improvements to the roads and intersections if they stay with plan c?

Ans.
Milton

Whether you have kids or not!!

Anonymous said...

East, west, north, south, black , white, green, brown, stripped, makes no difference, ride the bus or walk to school.

No student parking lots at school, hence more green space and less traffic congestion.

Anonymous said...

1:15PM... Appears you are suffering with a case of D.O.T.M.!

Anonymous said...

BINGO 1:15
Ignore the ignorant.

Anonymous said...

Where will everyone park for football games if no parking lots? Are the school buses gonna come by and pickup entire families and take them home after ice-cream or pizza? Can't walk to it if you live 3-6 miles away.

Nice look at reality.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone see how the BOE and their irresponsible decisions and faulty process is turning a community against each other?

But "children come first" mind you.

Anonymous said...

"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these." George Washington Carver