With a final redistricting vote expected Wednesday, one Garden Springs Elementary parent choked back tears and others pleaded with Fayette County School board members not to change the school's middle and high school feeder patterns.
Rhonda Black's voice broke as she spoke at a board meeting last week.
"These children are not statistics," Black said, "Their names are Gabriel, Logan and Will."
Under the proposed redistricting plan, Garden Springs Elementary would be changed from having one clear feeder pattern into middle and high school to three, a post on the Garden Springs PTA Facebook page says.
Under the current attendance assignment, all Garden Springs Elementary students go to Beaumont Middle and Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.
Under the proposal, children in the Garden Springs neighborhood would go to Beaumont Middle and Lafayette High School. Children living in Firebrook and Dogwood Trace would go to Beaumont Middle and Dunbar High School. Children in the Clemens Heights/Wyndham Downs neighborhoods would go to Jessie Clark Middle and Dunbar.
Across Lexington, said parent Lisa Hanlon, "these schools are not just schools, they are communities for our children.
Board members and the redistricting committee members who crafted the proposal have been concerned about overcrowding at Beaumont.
But parents said that after building friendships and a community at Garden Springs from kindergarten through fifth grade, the students would have that community "fractured" by being sent to different middle schools and then different high schools.
"Their support system is their friends," said Joy Davis, president of the Garden Springs PTA.
Davis said an unsettling separation could worsen the achievement gap between low income, disabled and minority students and other students.
She said she thought that all schools involved in the proposed plan for Garden Springs were good and that parents' misgivings were not based on the quality of the schools. She said parents did not want Garden Springs students torn away from friends as they entered middle schools.
"It's going to affect their academics," said Hanlon. "We want our kids to have a community that gives our kids stability."
Said Black, "Please, please reconsider before you vote."
The Garden Springs parents are not the only ones upset as the school board prepares to take a final vote at Wednesday's meeting, during which the board will take public comments.
Many residents in the Copperfield neighborhood want to stay at Beaumont Middle instead of being reassigned to Jessie Clark Middle.
James Wagers said residents think Jessie Clark is a good school with strong educators. But he said a longstanding feeder pattern would be disrupted if Copperfield is moved to Jessie Clark.
Wagers said that during a recent meeting between the board and the redistricting committee, a redistricting committee member talking about the Copperfield reassignment "spoke up to say that it was a move of sacrifice."
"They had nowhere else to place Copperfield to maintain capacity levels across all schools," Wagers said in a letter to school board members. "We appreciated the very honest answer but would graciously disagree with a sacrifice being made of Copperfield families, students, schools, and educators to simply satisfy capacity as a guiding principle. To make such a sacrifice does more harm than good."
Winn Stephens, who lives in the Seven Parks neighborhood, said he was "completely dismayed" as to why children in that neighborhood were being reassigned from Glendover Elementary to Picadome Elementary under the proposal.
Glendover has the been the neighborhood's school for 40 years, Stephens said.
The district is redrawing attendance boundaries in preparation for the openings of two more elementary schools in 2016 and another high school in 2017.
Some school board members say there are hesitant to change a plan that the redistricting committee, comprised of school officials and community members, spent more than a year working on, given that goals ranging from proximity to capacity to socioeconomics were taken into consideration.
But Stephens contended the latter wasn't the case with his neighborhood.
"It seems there is no reason for moving our children to Picadome that is related to the established goals of rezoning, yet we have not been granted our request," he said, "Our question is, why."