Riverwood International Charter High School will admit no more than 30 students from beyond the school’s attendance zone to its rising ninth grade class in the fall, school officials said.

Martha Greenway, chair of the school’s Governance Council, said the cap on students from other attendance zones is meant to lessen the effects of overcrowding on the school.

Attendance at the high school, intended to accommodate 1,350 students, is already more than 1,700 and is projected to climb above 2,000 by 2017, when expansions are expected to be made to the school, she said.

Speaking at a Jan. 7 meeting in the school auditorium, Greenway told Riverwood parents that county school officials had agreed to the cap.

But she said limiting out-of-zone students would not stop overcrowding. A large portion of attendance growth in the next five years, she said, will come from families moving to the area and parents choosing Riverwood over private schools.

“The projected growth is not coming from out-of-zone students,” she said. “We can shut out all the out-of-zone students and still not solve our problem.”

Riverwood Principal Christopher Triolo told the parents that roughly 450 of the school’s current 1,700 students live outside of Riverwood’s attendance zone. He said students from outside the school’s attendance zone add an important element of diversity to the student body.

He said Riverwood should begin accepting applicants to the school’s magnet program once planned additions to the school bring its capacity up. “Our magnet program is a valued part of our community, and it is our hope to be able to open our doors back up to the rest of the community.”

Greenway said the school’s governance council voted in December to exclude new families from the pool of out-of-zone applicants to Riverwood’s International Studies Magnet Program. This means only applicants with family attending or employed by Riverwood and those currently enrolled in Ridgeview Charter School will be considered for the program in the future.

Current Riverwood students from outside the attendance zone, however, will remain at the school through graduation.

“The policy of the school system is that, once you move to a school… that is your home school,” Greenway said. “Everyone who currently attends Riverwood is a part of our school and a member of the Riverwood family.”

Riverwood governing council member Bruce Piefke asked attendees to offer their skills and experience to help persuade Fulton County to move up expansions to the school. He told parents that a “smart, constructive approach,” is the only way to get a positive response from the county.

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