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School Board Considering Proposal for Community Meetings about Middle School Redistricting

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NOVEMBER 12, 2020 – A new middle called Lewisville Middle is being built and significant changes are being discussed at two other middle schools – Philo-Hill Magnet Academy and Hanes Magnet Middle.

The new school and proposed changes at Philo-Hill and Hanes mean that attendance districts would be redrawn. Other issues being discussed include whether to close Philo-Hill for a year while it is being renovated.

With all that in mind, at its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 17, the members of the WS/FCS Board of Education will vote on a proposal to schedule community meetings to give people an opportunity to share their thoughts about changes.

If the proposal passes, three community meetings will be held.

The community meeting about Lewisville Middle will be held Nov. 30 at Reagan High.

The community meeting about Hanes will be held Dec. 1 at North Forsyth High.

The community meeting about Philo-Hill will be held Dec. 2 at Parkland High.

As currently proposed, each meeting will offer in-person sessions at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the school’s auditorium. A virtual meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Recorded presentations will be posted on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools website, and people in the community will be able to offer feedback.

Construction is well underway for Lewisville Middle. It is scheduled to be completed by July 2021 so that it can open for the 2021-22 school year. The current proposal to create a residential district for the school, which will serve about 800 students, is to redraw the residential districts for Meadowlark Middle and Jefferson Middle.

When Lewisville Middle opens, rising eight-graders would have the option of continuing to attend the school where they had been going.

Money for the $31 million project comes from school bonds that voters approved in 2016.

Using $21 million from the 2016 bonds, Philo-Hill is scheduled for major renovations and an addition. The proposal is to turn Philo-Hill into an arts magnet school that would draw students from throughout the county. The arts being offered would include visual art, dance, band, theatre, chorus, and orchestra.

If the school were closed for the 2021-22 school year, the renovations and addition could be completed in time for it to open as an arts magnet school at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year. If the school remained open during construction, construction would not be completed until February 2023.

If the school is closed for the 2021-22 school year, the proposal is for about half of the Philo-Hill students to go to Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy and the other half to go to Hanes during that school year.

When the school reopens as an arts magnet, it would have a smaller residential district with some students who would have gone to Philo-Hill in the past be going to Hanes.

So fewer students from the local community – perhaps 200 to 400 –would be attending and the rest of the school’s 800 students – drawn by the school’s status as an arts magnet – would be coming from the wider community.

With Hanes, the proposal is to redraw the attendance lines. To understand the proposal, it’s necessary to remember that, until 2015, Hanes was located on Indiana Avenue. Since the building closed and the school opened in its current location off Sprague Street, many students in the old residential district have been riding the bus to the new location.

The old residential district is closer to Mineral Springs Middle, and the proposal is to redraw the lines so that residential students would not have to ride the bus as far.

Hanes would continue to serve as the school for middle school students participating in the HAG (Highly Academically Gifted) and STEM programs, and students in the community would also attend the school.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, school officials do not plan to offer bus transportation to magnet schools once middle and high students return to schools for the 2020-21 school year. Presuming that coronavirus restrictions have been lifted by the 2021-22 school year, the school system would provide transportation to magnet schools.