Alan Stein among those who may recommend new attendance boundaries for Lexington schools

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comApril 14, 2014 

Lexington businessman Alan Stein and Housing Authority Director Austin Simms are among the proposed members of a committee that will make recommendations for new Fayette school attendance boundaries, school officials said Monday.

The Fayette County Public Schools board will be asked to approve at a board meeting April 28 about 25 members for the redistricting committee that will meet for the next several months as the district prepares for new schools.

Board documents released Monday said the committee could develop a plan that would be given to the board for approval by December. Fayette Superintendent Tom Shelton said Monday night he thought some definitive answers about redistricting would be known by early spring 2015.

The committee's twice monthly meetings will be open to the public. Shelton said he is aware that parents will be concerned about district attendance boundaries being redrawn.

"It's a very open process," Shelton said. He said there would be public forums and a page on the district's website devoted to redistricting.

Redistricting all of Lexington's public-school boundaries is necessary because of a new high school on Winchester Road and two new elementary schools, one north of Interstate 75 and the other on Georgetown Road. The elementary schools should open in fall 2016; the high school should open in fall 2017.

The redistricting committee is charged with finding a way to assign students to schools that are as close to their homes as possible while paying attention to socio-economic balance — not creating rich schools or poor schools.

Malcolm Ratchford, who heads Community Action Council, and Bill Farmer, president of United Way of the Bluegrass, are also among those proposed to join parents, teachers, a city planning official, a school equity council representative, realtors, a home builder, school board members and school administrators in making redistricting recommendations. The proposed members were named at Monday's school board planning meeting. District officials reached out to several groups and organizations whose members then volunteered to serve, Shelton said.

Stein, for example, represents Commerce Lexington. He said Monday night that as a native Lexington resident, he had seen previous redistricting efforts be divisive.

"I think there's an important balance that always has to be struck," said Stein. "I come in it with no dogs in the fight."

District officials want the committee to represent a cross-section of the community, Shelton said. He said the committee, which includes school board members Amanda Ferguson and Daryl Love, would review data about where students live and where schools are located and determine "which boundaries make the most sense."

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