Education

Fayette school board accepts redistricting committee's plan except for one tweak

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

With the chairman saying "we can't create a perfect plan," the Fayette County school board Friday reached a consensus to accept a committee's redistricting proposal on all issues with the exception of one.

Summary of major redistricting recommendations

Diverting from the redistricting committee's proposal, school board members decided to move the Olde Bridge subdivision from Garden Springs Elementary School to Rosa Parks Elementary School as some residents had asked. There are only about four students who live in Olde Bridge, off Harrodsburg Road.

The board expects to take a final vote on the plan June 3 at a meeting where members are also seeking public comment.

The board had been looking at making other changes Friday, but board chairman John Price said he thought board members stuck to the redistricting committee's recommendations because they complied with the guiding principles for the process such as proximity, socioeconomic balance and school capacity.

"I think capacity was the driving force in most of these decisions," Price said.

The board decided to reassign the Squire Oak and Hunting Hills neighborhoods to Tates Creek Middle School and Tates Creek High School as the committee recommended.

Those neighborhoods are currently assigned to E.J. Hayes Middle School and Henry Clay High School.

School board members said their reasoning was that Hayes and Henry Clay were overcrowded.

"I was disappointed in their decision, but I do think as a board they tried to be consistent in their reasoning," said Jennie Hale, who represented Squire Oak and Hunting Hills at the meeting.

Board members also had been considering a request from Copperfield and Plantation residents to remain at Beaumont Middle School instead of being moved to Jessie Clark Middle School.

Board Vice Chairman Melissa Bacon had advocated for the residents. She had said that under the proposal, students in Copperfield and Plantation would not go to high school with the same group of students with whom they go to middle school.

But other board members decided at the meeting that because of overcrowding at Beaumont, they did not want to divert from the committee's proposal.

The school board also decided to reassign the Seven Parks neighborhood from Glendover Elementary to Picadome Elementary, as the redistricting committee had recommended.

Fayette County is redrawing attendance boundaries for the first time in more than a decade in anticipation of the opening of two new elementary schools in the fall of 2016 and a new high school in 2017. A redistricting committee of school officials and members of the community worked for more than a year on the plan before giving it to the school board.

Of almost 40,000 students in the district, 5,108 would be affected by the redistricting proposal, school officials have said.

Of those, 1,688 would be moving to the new schools.

Although achieving socioeconomic balance was one of the guiding principles for the redistricting process, the proposed plan did not make a lot of progress on that front.

Price said he thought the committee and board members did the best they could. Many Lexington neighborhoods are not diverse, and most parents have said they want their children to attend the closest school to their home, he said.

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