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Henry County Board of Education Approves Proposed Attendance Zones in Preparation for Birch Creek Elementary

HENRY COUNTY, GA – Henry County Board of Education approved proposed attendance zones during its Dec. 11 board meeting in preparation for the opening of Birch Creek Elementary School in August 2024.

Birch Creek will be the district’s 53rd school and its first new school in over a decade that requires the approval of new attendance zones. The approved zones will impact students attending three existing elementary schools: Bethlehem, Oakland, and Wesley Lakes.

A full map of the new attendance zones can be found on the district’s website, and official notification will be provided to impacted families later this month.

The approved of attendance zones resulted from a process that spanned more than three years and in recent weeks involved 79 opportunities for community engagement, including community forums, neighborhood sessions, and faculty meetings, with more than 550 participants.

In October 2020, the Board of Education conducted a student growth study to inform upcoming facility improvement and expansion projects. Its findings paved the way for the board to authorize a list of planned growth projects in January 2021 and Henry County voters to approve the E-SPLOST VI referendum in March 2021, which included the construction of Birch Creek Elementary School, approved by the board in August 2022.

“Henry County is one of the fastest growing counties in Georgia, and it is the board’s responsibility to ensure the district is proactively working to meet the community’s educational needs,” said Board Chair Annette Edwards (Dist. 2). “We look forward to the opening of Birch Creek Elementary, which will be another significant step to improve opportunities, access, and outcomes for students at all four schools impacted by the approved attendance zones.”

Based on Board Regulation JBCCA-R(2): Student Assignment to Schools – School Attendance Zones, new school attendance may be considered in several instances, including when a new school or replacement school has been approved, with a future schedule to open, when there is an imbalance in student enrollment across one or more schools, and when school attendance zone projections exceed school capacity and available capacity exists at surrounding schools.

Primary criteria for the development of new attendance zones include geographic proximity, school capacity, and projected enrollment, along with second criteria consisting of feeder patterns, traffic patterns, previous rezoning, and special programs.

The proposed attendance zones address capacity concerns at Oakland Elementary and Wesley Lakes Elementary, both operating at more than 100% capacity, while also adding students to Bethlehem Elementary, currently operating at 57% capacity, in an effort to balance enrollment among all four impacted schools while also considering projected growth.

The board proposed the new attendance zones at the November 2023 board meeting, and following a 30-day period allowing for public comment, the board voted unanimously at its December meeting to approve the proposed attendance zones for the four impacted elementary schools.

“We value the community’s input and perspective,” said Henry County Schools Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis. “We adhered to a methodical process that followed board policy on introducing attendance zones while also prioritizing engagement and positive collaboration between administrators, staff, and families to ensure a welcoming school culture and provide every family with access to timely information.”

Construction of Birch Creek Elementary is scheduled for completion by May 2024 to welcome students in fall 2024. The board recently appointed Quavious Wright to serve as the new school’s founding principal.

About Henry County Schools

Henry County Schools (HCS) is the eighth-largest school district in Georgia, consisting of 52 schools, including two academies, located about 20 minutes south of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Over the past 20 years, our community has grown in population from 113,000 residents to over 244,000 residents. Since 1999, student enrollment has grown from 21,000 to 43,000 students, and our number of employees has grown from 3,000 to 6,000.

HCS is “In Pursuit of Exceptional,” taking action to advance opportunities, access, and outcomes so that every student in our school district has Exceptional Support, Exceptional Access, and an Exceptional Future. In 2020, our Board of Education adopted our 2021-2026 Community-Inspired Strategic Plan and laid out a clear vision and mission for Henry County Schools. Our vision is to ensure a high-quality, world-class education for every student, and our mission is to empower all students with exceptional opportunities and access that lead to success in a global society.