Building a new elementary will require that hundreds of Lexington students be reassigned to a different school.
The largest elementary school ever built in Fayette County — the unnamed new school on Athens-Boonesboro Road — will hold 750 students, instead of 650 as has been the norm. It is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019.
An estimated 550 to 600 students whose homes are now assigned to Squires, Athens-Chilesburg and Garrett Morgan elementary schools will likely be reassigned to the new elementary school under construction, district Pupil Personnel Director Steve Hill said Monday.
Addresses of homes planned in the expected growth area around the new school in east Lexington will also assigned there, said Hill.
“Attendance zones must be identified to populate the school and this affords an opportunity to relieve overcrowding at several other locations,” school district documents said.
Opened in 2016, Garrett Morgan Elementary is one of the newest public schools in Fayette County, but the district is already placing portable classroom units there due to overcrowding for the 2018-19 school year. The school is at 1150 Passage Mound Way.
Athens-Chilesburg Elementary at 930 Jouett Creek Drive also has portables and is often described one of the district's most overcrowded elementary schools.
When a rezoning committee developed new school zones in advance of opening Garrett Morgan, it intentionally left the school attendance boundaries for Athens-Chilesburg larger than the building capacity with the understanding that a new school would be constructed in the near future, district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said earlier this year.
As expected, student enrollment in the area has continued to increase. This school year, there have been 783 students attending Athens-Chilesburg and an additional 150 students who reside in the Athens-Chilesburg attendance boundaries enrolled at Garrett Morgan and Squires elementaries.
In its first year, Garrett Morgan Elementary had an enrollment of 695 students. This year, the enrollment is 735, which includes 119 students from the Athens-Chilesburg attendance zone. Projections in January called for 806 students at Athens-Chilesburg and 746 students at Garrett Morgan during the 2018-19 school year
A committee of school district representatives, parents and people representing home builders, realtors, the city and Commerce Lexington will begin meeting near the end of the month. By the end of June, the committee, which will get information from a demographics firm, is expected to produce proposed attendance boundaries.
A public forum will be held in July and the committee will select a final plan by the end of July. All of the committee meetings will be public.
The Fayette County school board is expected to vote on the recommended plan by the end of August.
That would give families a full year to get accustomed to the changes, said school board member Doug Barnett.
Changes to attendance zones are routine when schools are built. In the past, rising fifth-graders and their siblings had been exempt from redistricting, and Hill said Monday that he expected similar decisions in this round.
Middle and high school school students will not be affected, he said.
It's possible other schools will be affected depending on demographic data from Davis Demographics, Hill said.
Myron Thompson, the district’s chief operations officer, told board members last month that the estimated total cost of the 80,000-square-foot school on Athens-Boonesboro Road was $23.8 million, down from $25.4 million in October 2017.