Talking for the first time Tuesday with the redistricting committee about its proposed new attendance boundaries, Fayette County school board members asked questions about the most controversial recommendations.
Board chairman John Price, who said there could be a final vote on the plan by the end of May, said he did not know whether the board would make changes in the recommendations. Price said he expected board members to have at least one study session about the plan. This is the first time in 12 years that the district has attempted widespread redistricting.
Price noted that making one change in the plan could result in board members having to make others.
"When you take a piece of the puzzle out, the puzzle falls apart," he said.
District attendance analyst Bob Joice said 5,108 of more than 40,000 students would be affected by the recommendations. Of those, 1,688 would be assigned to new schools.
Changes to elementary school attendance zones will take effect in fall 2016, when two new elementary schools open. Changes to middle and high school attendance zones will take effect in fall, 2017 when a new high school opens on Winchester Road.
The committee struggled with making a positive impact on high-poverty schools. Some of those schools also are dealing with low achievement.
Ron Langley, who represented the Fayette Equity Council on the redistricting committee, said last week that he and other committee members expected to give school board members an addendum to the main report that would offer other rezoning options to improve socioeconomic balance in schools. But after Tuesday's meeting, Langley said socioeconomic balance "is just one of the things you can't solve with redistricting'' under guiding principles that included sending students to nearby schools and curbing overcrowding. He said there wasn't much the committee could do to change high-poverty schools "without wholesale busing."
School board members also asked the committee about some recommendations people continue to oppose.
Committee members explained, for example, that they moved the Squire Oak neighborhood from Edythe J. Hayes Middle School to Tates Creek Middle because of overcrowding at Hayes. Residents of Squire Oak have contended that the redistricting committee made the decision at the last minute and that their voices were not heard. Committee chairman Alan Stein said the panel reviewed their concerns.
Board members also asked about recommendations to move neighborhoods, including Fairway, from Morton Middle to Lexington Traditional Magnet. Members said overcrowding at Morton and socioeconomic balance were key factors.
Likewise, committee members told the board that overcrowding at Beaumont Middle led to the decision to move the Copperfield neighborhood and others to Jessie Clark.