Fayette County parents express concerns about redistricting at second public forum

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comJuly 10, 2014 

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


Background: More than 100 people attended the second public forum on redrawing Fayette County school attendance zones Thursday night at Lafayette High School. The last time the district initiated widescale redistricting was 2002.

Attendance zone changes will be implemented when two new elementary schools open in 2016 — on Georgetown Road and east of Interstate 75 — and a new high school opens in 2017 on Winchester Road. More than 25 committee members will draft a proposal that will likely go to the school board in early 2015 for approval.

What was discussed: Parents asked school officials not to redistrict schools that are academically strong. Parents fear redistricting could harm children and create "broken" neighborhoods and communities. They said if parents are dissatisfied, a number of students would go to private schools and split up the community feel of neighborhoods. In response to questions, school district officials told parents that Superintendent Tom Shelton's cabinet developed the principles that will guide the redistricting committee. Parents are concerned that a primary guiding principle includes achieving socioeconomic balance. Parents want children to attend schools closest to their homes.

Real estate broker Diana Fields said she was concerned that if people stop buying homes while waiting for the redistricting process to play out, Lexington's economy would be hindered. Shelton, meanwhile, said every address in Lexington would not be redistricted.

Questions parents asked: How will school rezoning affect the placement of gifted and talented children?

How were committee members selected to be on the redistricting committee? Why are real estate agents and home builders on the committee?

Are students consulted about redistricting?

Why change successful schools?

Continuing the conversation: A parent said there should be more positive changes along with redistricting such as more elementary foreign language classes. Parents want school officials to consider what will happen to school budgets when students are moved from schools that receive federal funding — due to low income students — to schools that don't. Parents want to know which students might be allowed to continue attending a school where they've attended long term.

What's next: The next redistricting committee meeting is set for 4:30 p.m. July 24 at the district's warehouse facility, 1126 Russell Cave Road.

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