Background: The committee redrawing Fayette County school attendance zones met Thursday night at the district's warehouse on Russell Cave Road in one of several such meetings that will be held this year. The last time the district initiated wide-scale redistricting was 2002.
Attendance zone changes will be implemented when two new elementary schools open in 2016 — on Georgetown Road and off Polo Club Boulevard — and a new high school opens in 2017 on Winchester Road. About 30 committee members will draft a proposal that is scheduled to go to the school board in early 2015 for approval.
What was discussed: "This is not and never has been a done deal. This is truly a community process," district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said. Committee members discussed current attendance boundaries for high schools, but made no decisions about how attendance zones will be redrawn. Members are still carrying out practice exercises. Committee member Doug Botkin said that based on those exercises, it appeared to him that the committee could be asked to redraw attendance boundaries for all of Fayette County, not just the attendance boundaries for the new high school.
The committee has been reviewing data that includes how many students attend the district's special programs or are educated in a way that does not include them going to their assigned school. For example, members were given data that showed that 1,164 students were homeschooled in Fayette County in 2013-14, up from 1,040 in 2009-10.
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Parents' concerns: Jennifer Rock, who lives in Andover Hills in east Lexington, said she attended the meeting because she was concerned about where her preschooler would be going to school in 2016. Rock said her home is currently assigned to Athens-Chilesburg Elementary, but the area is heavily populated with families who live within one mile of that school.
"It will be interesting to see how they figure it out, who goes and who doesn't," Rock said. "We moved into Andover Hills for that school district."
"I'm interested in the process, but I'm also advocating for my child and for him to receive the best education that he possibly can," Rock said.
Continuing the conversation: Going forward, Deffendall said, committee members will know how many addresses are planned for undeveloped areas, and members will be able to review birth trends. They will know where children live, how many children are homeschooled, how many attend private school and how many attend a special program within the district. Committee members will know where kids go to school, where they should go and how old they are. They will know how many kids live on a given street, how far they would have to walk to school, how far their parents would have to drive them and whether their assigned school has room for them. Members will know the ethnicity and economic status of students and whether they have a disability.
"This is a process that is grounded in factual information using the very best resources available to ensure that the committee will be making a long-term recommendation for our community," Deffendall said.
What's next: The next meeting is 4:30 p.m., Sept. 25 at the Herald-Leader building, 100 Midland Avenue, third-floor conference room