Education

‘No room.’ District could move students from one of city’s top-performing schools.

Veterans Park Elementary School
Veterans Park Elementary School cbertram@herald-leader.com

Lexington’s latest school redistricting effort might not be limited to filling the newest elementary on Athens Boonesboro Road as was originally thought.

Here’s why: In addition to populating the new school, district officials want to move about 100 children from the high-performing Veterans Park Elementary to Lansdowne and Southern elementaries to help with overcrowding.

Veterans Park has so many students that lunch takes two hours and parents can’t fit in the gym to watch their children at daytime assemblies , said principal Molly Dabney.

Dabney said special classes are held in portable buildings. “We have assemblies with 800 kids in our building. There’s no room for parents to come to daytime performances. Lunch goes for two hours trying to get kids fed. We’ve had to cap our kindergarten class at 120 students so that we are able to maintain class size,” Dabney said.

“It puts a lot of strain on kids, but it also puts a lot of strain on staff and the building itself,” said Fayette Pupil Personnel Director Steve Hill.

Dabney on Thursday attended a meeting of the rezoning committee meeting whose members include district staff, parents and business and real estate leaders .

Veterans Park Elementary currently has 838 students whose home addresses are assigned to the building with a 650-student capacity. Forty students who would normally be assigned to Veterans Park are already being sent to Southern Elementary because of overcrowding. Currently, Veterans Park has 790 students attending there. The number of students whose home addresses are assigned to Veterans Park Elementary is expected to grow to 975 by 2022-23, said Hill..

Under the latest scenario, some kids who live near the Jessamine County -Fayette County line could be moved from Veterans to Lansdowne Elementary, said Hill.

Other students living near the intersection of Man o’ War Boulevard and Tates Creek Road would be moved from Veterans Park to Southern Elementary. The total number moved to the two schools would be about 100.

In redistricting for the yet unnamed elementary on Athens Boonesboro, students likely affected under the latest proposal would live in the areas now assigned to Julius Marks, Athens Chilesburg and Garrett Morgan elementary schools. That includes areas on Richmond Road past Jacobson Park ,Bainbridge Drive, Ellerslie, the Peninsula area, Stuart Hall, and the area south of Chilesburg Road.

Students who will live in the currently undeveloped land close to Polo Club Boulevard and Man O’War would also attend there. The first year the school opens in fall 2019, a few more than 500 children will attend. Within a few years that number should grow to 650. The school will have a capacity of 750.

The Andover Hill neighborhood, where children attend Athens Chilesburg Elementary, will not be affected under the latest proposal although that had been discussed earlier.

Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk holds Lexington's second annual State of Schools Address to review over the past 2017-2018 Fayette County's school year and what to plan for going into 2018-2019.

One major issue in Fayette County Public Schools is that students whose homes are assigned to Athens Chilesburg Elementary are being transferred to other schools because of overcrowding.

Athens Chilesburg Elementary, commonly called ACE, is so overcrowded that 130 children whose home address is assigned to the school are attending nearby Garrett Morgan Elementary instead. Under one scenario, in 2019-20, the new school on Athens Boonesboro Road would have 507 students , ACE would have 630, Julius Marks Elementary would have 588 and Garrett Morgan Elementary would have 738. In 2022-23, the new school on Athens Boonesboro would have 629, and ACE would have 6 48 Julius Marks would have 520 and Garrett Morgan Elementary would have 804. All of the schools are in east Lexington.

In addition to the new school on Athens Boonesboro Road, school officials are looking for more land so that yet another new elementary can be built in the nearby Hamburg area.

A public hearing on the proposed redistricting plan will be held sometime before September, but a date has not been determined yet, Hill said. The school board will likely vote on the plan in September.

“None of this is final until the (school) board weighs in, makes a final vote,” said Hill. ”As of now, this will be the committee recommendation.”

Fayette school board vice-chair Ray Daniels, who is a member of the current redistricting committee said, “I think its the most comprehensive redistricting we can do under the requirements that we have, which is to not impact the whole district.”

“We are trying to impact as little as possible but also trying to make sure that we are fair, equitable in all of the schools and kids don’t get moved more than twice,” Daniels said.

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