Fayette Schools redistricting committee wades through 44 scenarios; chairman sees progress

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

The Fayette County Public Schools redistricting committee on Thursday night rejected a possible scenario for redrawing attendance boundaries that would have moved more than 7,600 students.

The scenario, which some committee members thought was too disruptive and would have brought too many changes — in particular to Cassidy and Glendover elementary schools — was one of 44 options discussed Thursday. The committee is working to redraw attendance boundaries in preparation for the openings of two new elementary schools in fall 2016 and a new high school in fall 2017.

"I think all of us determined that the scenarios we walked in with were unworkable for a whole lot of reasons," committee chairman Alan Stein said. "They split up too many neighborhoods and moved too many kids from where they currently are.

"You might move a whole neighborhood, and that's much less impactful than moving three different segments of a neighborhood into three different schools. We don't want to do that."

Stein said it was unclear at this point how many of the district's more than 41,000 students would be moved. But the numbers discussed have totaled 5,000 to 7,000. At least 2,800 students will move into the new schools by 2017, he said.

Stein said a few committee members are "advocating that we hardly do anything. Just leave it alone ... populate the new schools and be done with it."

The committee has made no decisions to give to the school board for approval and won't until mid-March to April 1, Stein said. District officials hope to have a community meeting about redistricting, at which families may offer opinions, in late January.

As in past meetings, the committee tried Thursday to reach balanced capacity enrollment at several elementary schools.

Stein said that at the next meeting, at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Central Office, committee members were expected to discuss other guiding principles such as socioeconomic balance. The committee will have an aggressive schedule in January and February, meeting twice next week alone.

Among the discussions Thursday was whether families in the Palomar neighborhood would be moved from Rosa Parks to Stonewall elementary, but no decisions was made.

Stein said he thought the committee made a lot of progress Thursday in working with data about students and schools.

"What we have figured out is how to analyze all the data and be more focused on making it all fit together," he said.

Before Thursday's meeting, Emily Venters Coomes, who lives in the Andover neighborhood, was concerned that the neighborhood would be split between Athens-Chilesburg Elementary, often called ACE for short, and a new elementary school. But at the meeting, Coomes saw a new possible scenario.

"I was really happy with the map they put together for our area at the meeting tonight," she said. "It seems like the best of both worlds. It kept Andover together and it also included in the ACE district (the) Stuart Hall and Chilesburg" neighborhoods.

"This is the best map I've ever seen," she said.

Stuart Hall neighbors have been concerned that they are assigned to Breckinridge Elementary but live closer to Athens-Chilesburg.

"Out of every meeting I've been to, I think they made more progress tonight," said Vicky Walters, who lives in the Stuart Hall neighborhood. "I actually saw some logic being exercised. I saw some movement in a very positive direction."

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