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School districts to change

Decision may come in April

POSTED: March 17, 2010 4:00 a.m.
Frank Reddy Dawson Community News/

Students and staff file out of Robinson Elementary on Friday. The nearly 700-student school could get some relief this fall with the opening of Riverview Elementary.

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The Dawson County Board of Education is moving forward with plans to redraw attendance zones to make way for the district’s fourth elementary school.


Riverview Elementary, led by longtime administrator and current Black’s Mill Elementary Principal Julia Mashburn, is scheduled to open this fall.


The chief goal behind the redistricting for the new school, Superintendent Keith Porter said, is to relieve crowding at Robinson Elementary.


Robinson’s enrollment of nearly 700 students could drop to about 535 under the proposal.


Attendance at other schools would also drop. Projections show Black’s Mill would have 351 students, while there would be 464 at Kilough and 315 at Riverview.


“The one thing about the Dawson County community is it places a great emphasis on having community schools, and we’re going to have some low enrollments,” said Porter during a March 8 school board meeting.


“The offshoot of that is every child will have a true identity. It allows teachers, principals and administrative staff to really know those kids. We’ve tried to stay away from the ‘mega schools.’”


Officials sent a letter home to parents last week informing them what school their children would attend next school year.


An accompanying survey asked parents if, given the option, they would take advantage of school choice.


“The survey will help us get a good projection of who would prefer that option,” Porter said.


The board’s final vote on the attendance zones could come April 12.


School board member Will Wade said small schools are a plus.


“The larger the class size, the less likely a child will have an opportunity to build their own identity and really blossom,” Wade said.


Kim Bennett, vice principal at Robinson, said reducing the school’s student population “will help tremendously.”


“It will make a difference,” she said. “It’s going to be a good thing, but for me ... to lose some of our kids is going to break my heart. You get used to seeing their faces every day.”


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