The Paulding County Commission chairman and school district superintendent agreed they want to continue discussing how their two departments can better collaborate on location of new residential areas.
Commission Chairman Dave Carmichael said he and Superintendent Brian Otott “have had general conversations” in recent years about better coordination on residential zoning between the school board, county commissioners and county planning and zoning department.
Otott said the school district’s goal is “to work with our partners in this community to plan effectively to deal with the growth we are seeing return to Paulding County.”
“We are discussing how we can continue open communication with county government,” Otott said.
Carmichael said he wants county government and school district administrators to informally meet for an “exchange of ideas.”
“Bottom line … we are committed to collaborating together to achieve greater success,” he said.
The county school board recently approved placing on the Nov. 5 ballot renewal of the countywide 1% Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for education, in part to generate funds to build a new middle school and add to existing schools to relieve overcrowding in northeast Paulding schools.
School board member Jason Anavitarte recently said the lack of coordination on planning in recent years contributed to overcrowding of schools in some parts of the county.
Carmichael said he “strongly” agreed with Anavitarte that "we need to collaborate more."
Otott said district administrators have had discussions with post commissioners and the chairman in recent years about future growth trends and the need for collaborative planning.
“We have discussed concerns with growth, its potential impact on schools, infrastructure and resources, and what we see as our next steps as a school district to respond to it,” he said..
“We feel it is important to have a venue to have ongoing dialogue around growth, infrastructure, development, and how we can work with the BOC to coordinate so that our schools can continue to be outstanding learning environments for students.
“We feel that continued communication would provide both the board of education and board of commissioners an opportunity to share information, ask questions, and discuss common concerns.”
Carmichael said the two have discussed a number of topics, ranging from traffic mobility to school security, alcohol and drug awareness and, most recently, vaping problems “along with lighter subjects like school athletics and other valuable and unique teams within our schools and county.”
One area in which collaboration between the county and school district has been done in recent months is in exchange of data about population growth trends.
County Community Development director Ann Lippmann said her staff already provides school district officials with copies of all rezoning cases and they “have the opportunity to comment on the request if they choose.”
In addition, at least quarterly in recent years Lippmann sends school district officials a listing of the types of building permits being issued in unincorporated Paulding County and the city of Hiram.
The information details the type of construction — such as single-family residential housing — and its location within each high school, middle school and elementary school district, Lippman said.
“Elementary is a new feature starting in 2019 but high school and middle school data have been sent to them for the past few years,” she said.
She said her department recently asked school district officials to report the specific schools being affected by residential rezoning requests “along with information about current enrollment and a projected increase in student population based on the proposed number of lots.”
Lippmann’s department oversees the county’s planning and zoning, building permitting and inspections, and business license functions.
She led a 2017 effort to update the Comprehensive Plan the Georgia Department of Community Affairs requires of Georgia cities and counties every 10 years.
The document included a section on desired future land use but only guides commissioners’ future decision-making on zoning and does not legally require them to follow it.
In an earlier version of this article, a quote attributed to Chairman Dave Carmichael concerning remarks by a county school board member was not accurate.