Committee could start reviewing redistricting proposals for Fayette high schools by summer

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comApril 29, 2014 

Fayette County Public Schools central offices at 701 East Main Street, Lexington.


Parent Angie Kerrick came on Tuesday to the first meeting of the committee redrawing attendance zones for Fayette County Public Schools because she hopes her son isn't reassigned from Stonewall Elementary.

Any time Fayette County decides to redistrict, she said, "parents should be concerned about it."

"I don't want him to leave Stonewall because we love it there," Kerrick said. She said her neighborhood had already been subject to redistricting when Wellington Elementary opened in 2011 and her son was moved from Picadome Elementary.

Although no firm decisions are expected until early 2015, the redistricting committee could be reviewing specific proposals for redistricting high schools by summer, according to a timeline released at the meeting.

Specific proposals for redrawing zones for middle and elementary schools should come later in the fall, the timeline said.

School officials are redrawing attendance zones because the district is building two more elementary schools, set to open in fall 2016, and another high school, on Winchester Road, set to open in 2017.

About a half-dozen parents joined district officials and most of the 27 members of the new redistricting committee at the meeting at the Lexington Herald-Leader building.

District attendance analyst Bob Joice gave the committee some facts about student attendance. About 20 percent of Fayette County's approximately 40,000 students don't attend the neighborhood school they are assigned to either because they are attending magnet programs or because their neighborhood's assigned school is overcrowded, Joice said.

An example of families affected by overcrowding, Joice said in an interview, are those living in neighborhoods around Sandersville Elementary in the Leestown Road area. Some of those children are assigned to other schools.

Redistricting committee members said that people in the community were already asking them questions prior to Tuesday's meeting, including where their child would go under redistricting, whether students would be allowed to continue attending their current school, and if so, whether siblings would be allowed to attend that school as well.

While those answers could be months away, district officials asked the committee members to start immediately reviewing data of racial breakdowns of students at every school as well as the percentages of students receiving free and reduced lunch. The guiding principles approved by the school board for the committee include achieving a socioeconomic balance at schools and making sure that students go to schools close to their homes.

The committee is expected to gather at least twice monthly at public meetings through December and could have a plan for the board in early 2015.

The next meeting is May 15, although a location has not been set.

Committee member Bill Farmer, president of the United Way of the Bluegrass, said the fact that parents came to the meeting showed that people were "interested and passionate about this particular subject."

"The hard work starts now," Farmer said.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409. Twitter: @vhspears

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