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Duluth To Gain Students From Peachtree Ridge Cluster

Gwinnett school officials planning to shift hundreds for next school year.

Updated at 3:05 pm, Feb. 24, 2011

Gwinnett school officials are working on plans to shift about 500 students from the Peachtree Ridge cluster to the nearby Duluth cluster for the next school year because of disproportionate attendance in those schools. The plans involve seven schools in the two districts.

Rae Saidman, president of the Gwinnett County Council Area II PTA, said Thursday that she will be attending a meeting March 1 at the Gwinnett schools' instructional support center in Suwanee to hear and discuss the plans. School officials confirm that maps will be available March 7.

The full Gwinnett school board is scheduled to vote on the matter at its April 21 meeting, said spokesperson Jorge Quintana. The schools involved in the redistricting are Peachtree Ridge HS, Duluth HS, Hull MS, Duluth MS, Mason ES, Chesney ES and Harris ES. Public input will be allowed in the process.

The redistricting apparently would be based on geographic lines. The changes would take effect during the 2011-12 school year, Saidman said.

Students in elementary, middle and high schools in the Peachtree Ridge cluster would be affected, Saidman said. The preliminary number is 540 students, with about 180 going from Peachtree Ridge HS, in Suwanee, to Duluth HS. Empty classrooms in Duluth and overcrowding in Peachtree Ridge have prompted the plans.

The redistricting process also involves the Central Gwinnett and Shiloh school clusters. For more information, visit the school system's Web site: http://www.gwinnett.k12.ga.us/gcps-mainweb01.nsf

The Peachtree Ridge cluster map: http://www.gwinnett.k12.ga.us/gcps-mainweb01.nsf/7DAC1ABEEA3D0AB7852575E4006365F4/$file/Peachtree_Ridge_Cluster_Map_2010-11.pdf

The Duluth cluster map: http://www.gwinnett.k12.ga.us/gcps-mainweb01.nsf/DE4086839507ACA0852575DE0068ECD4/$file/Duluth_Cluster_Map_2010-11.pdf

Sharon Catter February 24, 2011 at 06:55 PM
I have one son starting at Peachtree Ridge in the fall. Our neightborhood is all up in arms regarding this change. Most are saying they will send their kids to private schools, they don't want their kids at Duluth. This is a huge step back for our kids who are ready to be a part of Peachtree Ridge High School. No one wants to attend a school they have seen as a rival school. I believe our kids are being robbed of the quintessential high school experience, moving on to high school with all of thier friends they have grown up with all these years. My younger son went from Parsons to Burnette in his fifth grade year. I can see redistricting for a new school, but to send our kids to an older school, and a rival school at that, is a huge step backwards. I am a Duluth business owner, this is what I am paying all these tax dollars for? I believe we should be given a choice.
Steve Burns (Editor) February 24, 2011 at 08:26 PM
Sharon, thanks for your comment. Keep us posted. What neighborhood?
Rita Carruthers February 24, 2011 at 09:16 PM
"I can see redistricting for a new school, but to send our kids to an older school, and a rival school at that, is a huge step backwards." How does sending your child to an oder, rival school equate to taking a step backwards? Last time I checked, the major purpose of attending school is to get an education. Can that not be accomplished at Duluth?
Allison February 24, 2011 at 09:55 PM
I totally agree with you on that point. It would be a very tough transition for students at Peachtree Ridge; however, Duluth is a great school full of teachers who really care about the students. For example, my son is a junior at Duluth High School and was failing physics in the first semester but his teacher really helped him make it through it and now he is passing. Duluth is a really great school but adjusting would be hard.
Allison February 24, 2011 at 10:03 PM
I agree with you Rita. Though Duluth High is an older school, it is one of the best in the county. For example, in the 2009-10 school year, Duluth recieved an average SAT score of 1556; whilst Peachtree Ridge got a 1549. While these scores are very close, Duluth is an older school, thus showing us that older schools can compete with the newer ones and still do excellent on test scores. Besides, we should not worry about rival schools and what not. It is about what our students learn and how they can grow.
Jeff February 25, 2011 at 03:42 AM
The 'taking a step backwards' comment is very offensive. Maybe you should check the latest Newsweek report regarding top Georgia schools. Yes, Duluth High School is older, but their ranking is well above Ridge. Many Duluth residents were upset by the redistricting years ago. The redistricting was very much in favor of Ridge and left Duluth with many of the apartment communities, but Duluth rose to the challenge and continues to be a school of excellance. The campus at Duluth has be upgraded, the teaching staff is top notch and the sports programs are on their way up. So, in otherwords give Duluth a break, we understand this is very hard. The big rival thing was created by the earlier redistricting. We understand, our son plays for a Ridge rec team and it is sort of hard to yell 'Go Lions', but we're getting there. It may be a good thing for the affected kids. Time will tell. Also, note the kids will follow the parents, if the parents take this negative position, it will be even harder for the kids. School, Rank, E&E North Gwinnett High, 186, 46 Berkmar High, 240, 18 Norcross High, 413, 34.3 Brookwood High, 438, 43.9 Duluth High, 452, 36.7 Parkview High, 579, 35 Meadowcreek High, 636, 20.9 Central Gwinnett High, 751, 24.4 Peachtree Ridge High, 806, 33.9
Dana - PRHS Supporter February 25, 2011 at 12:23 PM
I have a daughter at PRHS and we discussed this at dinner last night. She will not be leaving PRHS and her younger sister is very upset that she may have to attend Duluth. Basically all of her friends (school, sports, church, etc.) will remain at PRHS. The sense of community is lost. As a parent, I think the block schedule is a huge benefit for the kids. Allows them to really focus on 2 subjects rather than spreading their time thin among many. Let me know when/where the "voice your opinion" meeting is because I would like to voice my "Don't do it!" opinion.
Melanie Fleury February 25, 2011 at 11:50 PM
If I remember correctly, when Peachtree Ridge opened, Collins Hill students were allowed to decide if they wanted to finish out the year at Collins Hill or switch to Ridge. Perhaps the same thing will be allowed for this change? In the end, I truly believe that a child will do well in school with the help of parents that support them. There are good teachers at both schools, as well as good sports programs, and good and bad students. As far as rankings go, depending on the publication, the argument could be made for either school. As long as the parents keep a positive attitude and a cool head, our children will learn to adjust and still be able to do well.
Steven February 26, 2011 at 05:33 AM
Did you know Peachtree Bluff was zoned to Duluth before it became part of the Peachtree Ridge cluster? Since the neighborhood was built in the '90s, all school-age children living there prior to 2004 would have attended the Duluth cluster schools (i.e. Chattahoochee Elementary, Duluth Middle, and Duluth High). In fact, I have a friend who lives in your neighborhood and went to Duluth schools all the way up to high school until he was zoned to PRHS. Do you think he was happy about having to leave many of his childhood friends behind to attend this new school? You make the point that everyone in your neighborhood has basically adopted Suwanee as their hometown, but you forget to mention that your neighborhood actually has a Duluth address and is pretty much equidistant from both cities. The point is, this Peachtree Ridge community was built around the school and has existed for less than 10 years -- before that, any place in the vicinity was considered either Duluth or Suwanee, which both have much longer histories. Although this situation is unfortunate and a result of poor redistricting, it is a necessary one considering the imbalance in numbers between the two high schools. And ultimately, just as you were able to meet new people and succeed in spite of schedule differences as those who were redistricted to PRHS had to do, things will work themselves out. If you are so opposed to redistricting, I would be curious to hear if you had a better proposal to address this problem.
Steven February 26, 2011 at 05:34 AM
P.S. Burnette ES was not mentioned as one of the schools affected by the redistricting, so you can probably save yourself the trip.
I love Duluth February 26, 2011 at 12:15 PM
This is going to be ugly. I was beginning to feel like the affects of the Duluth -Peachtree Ridge Cluster split were finally wearing off but here we go again. My neighborhood is at the very edge of the Duluth cluster and our home values have suffered as a family desiring to live in our area but go to PRHS can buy just across 120 or in the next subdivision east of us. However, we are very happy with the Duluth schools. I also think the High School kids will have the option to stay where they are. However, people need to realize that this is a bottom line issue for GCPS.
Susan Chavis March 02, 2011 at 08:00 PM
When the discussion turns to the history of the split and how it divided a thriving town 10 years ago, I can add some information because my children were in the middle of it. When we moved to the Duluth cluster and my daughters were enrolled in Chatahoochee Elementary, we were told that by the time they were ready for high school, there would be a "new" Duluth High School. Since the campus was the second oldest in the county at the time, this made sense. Little did we know, nor did we find out until they were in 7th grade, that there would not be a "new" Duluth High School, but a new high school that would take some of the Duluth students, but not all. If you look at the original mission of Peachtree Ridge and the re-districting at the time, you can see which subdivisions and neighborhoods were drawn in to the new cluster and the income level that was considered. Before the school opened, recreation teams were already using Duluth fields for Peachtree Ridge and planning a new park for themselves. The attrition rate for volunteers, coaches and community leaders was extraordinary, because we all know that if something is new, it must be better! So many of the county's standing rules were broken at the time that hearing Ms. Murphy say she has to check with a government agency makes me laugh. It didn't matter before, I don't think it will matter this time. One of my daughters will enter med school this year and we can than Duluth High for that!!
I love Duluth March 03, 2011 at 12:34 AM
Susan - You have alot of insight to this situation. However, I wanted to clarify something - my family lives in the Duluth cluster and we have had bad experiences with Duluth Rec baseball and basketball leagues. We felt there was no parent and volunteer code of conduct (we actually witnessed the cops being called after a Duluth Tball coach went after a woman umpire over a bad call) , many league leaders only care about their kids/teams, new volunteers are given little guidance and new ideas are not welcome. Our son now plays sports in the Peachtree Ridge Rec league - not because it is "new", but because it is run so much better than Duluth's. Many other families have left the Duluth rec league (especially baseball) for the same reasons and depending on where they live, they are at Peachtree Ridge or Norcross.
Allison Rodgers March 03, 2011 at 03:39 PM
Well said. My son is a freshman at Duluth High School and he loves it. I am very happy with the teachers and staff there. So it's an old school, who cares? It's the education that the kids get that matters.
Allison Rodgers March 03, 2011 at 03:41 PM
Glad to hear that others know that Duluth High School is a great school!
Susan Chavis March 03, 2011 at 09:45 PM
GR, My children were involved at the rec level about 10-12 years ago before the split and you couldn't have asked for better parents at that time. I sat on the board of directors for DYFCA and we had some difficulty for sure, but many of the commissioners and families now at Peachtree Ridge rec. park became involved first at Duluth. Referencing my comments before, Peachtree Ridge may be run better than Duluth now, but it was not when all of this started years ago. The defection of so many at that time hurt our leagues drastically. My daughter plays college softball on a full scholarship as a result of her years spent at Duluth. I think you are missing the point. We had something that was good taken away from us and we had no recourse. There are many great families and students in the Duluth cluster who did not defect and would simply like for the playing field to be a little more even.
Annette Rogers March 05, 2011 at 12:45 AM
Duluth High School was also affected by the opening of the new Norcross High School located just over 6 miles from DHS in 2001 (I think). This seemed to primarily effect Berkeley Lake area. It remains that students within easy walking distance of Norcross High School are zoned to Duluth. Berkeley Lake Elementary is located 2.1 miles from NHS and has no major highways/intersections between the schools. At about the same time NHS opened, Wesleyan vastly expanded it's Peachtree Corners campus located across the street from NHS. Approximately, two years later PRHS was built only 4 miles from DHS (Closer to DHS than two of it's own elementary schools (BLES 5 mi. & Chesney Elementar 4.4 mi). Not only were many Duluth residents upset, but also other overcrowded schools like North Gwinnett that were experiencing a population "explosion" and critically needed more classrooms. I remember the jokes and hostility about how the "lines" were drawn. I know that several years ago, when the new Duluth Middle School & Chesney Elementary were built, an increase in students was to be expected because of the new apartment residences being built in the area. I believe I remember this being estimated at about 500 students. Will Duluth Middle School continue to be the only middle school feeding in to Duluth High School? Before PRHS was built, I believe both Hull and Duluth Middle fed into Duluth High School.
Michael Cornwall March 07, 2011 at 10:24 PM
I am a 7th grade student at Hull Middle in the Peachtree Ridge cluster. I live in River Plantation. Me, and all of the students at Hull who will be affected by this change will probably agree with me when I say, "We aren't leaving Hull." Like many other students at Hull, I have a life there, friends, cool teachers, and a great time. Moving to Duluth MS for 8th grade (and Duluth HS for 9th-12th grade) will honestly suck. Everyone will already have their cliques (or friend groups). I'm not leaving my best friends to go to some school that I'm unfamiliar with, that's older, and that's a RIVAL SCHOOL! Also, about GR's comment, the baseball incident, that NEVER happened in the Peachtree Ridge clusters, and it NEVER WILL happen. If this change does happen, and my neighborhood (River Plantation) does move to the Duluth cluster, I WILL NOT BE HAPPY at all. This whole thing is whack and unfair. Now you've heard it from the voice of a student who will be drastically affected by this change.
I love Duluth March 07, 2011 at 10:51 PM
Michael - if you look at the map that was published today your neighborhood is not affected by this redistricting.
Michael Cornwall March 08, 2011 at 02:33 AM
yea. i looked at it after i posted the comment. i shouldve done tht 1st. thanks anyway GR :)
Michael Cornwall March 08, 2011 at 02:35 AM
still the whole thing is messed up and the gwinnett county school page i looked at said tht they could change the map again sometime in april. ima lil worried bout tht.
I love Duluth March 08, 2011 at 01:07 PM
It is messed up but I really think that if there are any changes it will still just affect Mason Elementary.
AF March 09, 2011 at 05:44 PM
My kids are not school-age as of yet and, though I can't say I understand the maps, the words I keep hearing within my neighborhood are "Title One", which will decrease our property value. Is there any truth to this?
Allison Rodgers March 09, 2011 at 06:30 PM
Duluth Middle, Duluth High School are not Title One schools.
Allison Rodgers March 09, 2011 at 06:31 PM
If anyone wants a list of Title One schools in Gwinnett go to the Gwinnett County Public Schools website and look for the Title One Schools list. **I can't believe people worry about this. Every child deserves a good education regardless of economic status.
AF March 09, 2011 at 06:41 PM
Who said anything about a child not deserving a good education? I'm all for education for everyone, so there's no need to jump to conclusions. I'm simply asking a reasonable question so I can make an educated decision based on as much information as possible. As of this writing, you are correct that Duluth Middle and Duluth High are not Title One. What I'm hearing is that the new lines drawn will turn DMS and DHS into Title One schools, which will further decrease the property value. I'm trying to verify or dispel that rumor.
Allison Rodgers March 09, 2011 at 07:10 PM
To be honest with you I have not heard anything about these schools going Title I if the changes are made. All I've heard is how people who go to Peachtree Ridge don't want to go to an "old school."
Rita Carruthers March 09, 2011 at 09:11 PM
Great comment! My daughter is a sophomore at Duluth High School where she particpates on the volleyball, basketball and track teams. We are very happy with the quality of education and all this talk about Dulth being below standard is simply absurd! Being in the Duluth cluster was a major requirement when we purchased our home--so not EVERYONE wants to attend the "new school"!
Allison Rodgers March 09, 2011 at 09:29 PM
My son went to Berkeley Lake ES, Duluth Middle and is now at Duluth High. I could not be more happy with the teachers and the education that my son has gotten and is getting at these great schools!
Susan Chavis March 10, 2011 at 03:58 PM
This is getting ridiculous. Duluth is not a Title One school, nor will it be after the re-mapping occurs. Although you might consider that if the cluster lines had been drawn more equitably to begin with, this would be a non-issue. If the lines are drawn correctly this time, again, it will be a non-issue. At the time in history that all this occurred, many of the subdivisions that are now in the PRHS cluster actively lobbied to be included in the cluster. This, along with the first year's open door policy for new students decimated Duluth H.S. My daughters refused to go over to Peachtree Ridge (they could have, if they provided their own transportation) and one of them was cut from her travel ball team as a result. It is time to stop trying to red-line neighborhoods and put some real thought into planning and re-districting for this area. If we don't, I am sure this will be a recurring sore subject that won't go away.

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