Fayette County Public Schools is developing early entry procedures so students who will be in sixth and ninth grades next fall may switch to their new schools a year in advance of being redistricted.
While the school board did not take a vote, it reached consensus on the plan at its meeting Monday. Switches for sixth-graders, however, will be based on whether their new schools have enough room for them.
The board also decided Monday to implement new programs for low-performing schools.
The district spent more than a year redrawing attendance zones in preparation for the openings of two more elementary schools in 2016 and a new high school on Winchester Road in 2017. The maps were approved in June.
The changes take effect for elementary schools in August and for middle and high schools in fall 2017.
The board also decided to eliminate the district's continuation plan next fall. Essentially, the continuation plan arranges elementary schools into groups and establishes guidelines so that when a school becomes overcrowded, new students in the attendance area are assigned to a different school. But starting in fall 2016, new students may go to their assigned schools even if they are overcrowded.
Steve Hill, director of pupil personnel, said the district wanted to have neighborhood schools whenever possible.
The decisions are in addition to an earlier one that allows affected students in grades 5, 8, 11 and 12 to stay in their schools rather than be forced to switch when the new school zones are implemented. Siblings of students in those grades may remain in their existing schools only as long as their older brothers or sisters are there.
On another front, 21 Fayette County schools identified by the state last spring as needing more help from the district are set to get it.
Marlene Helm, acting senior director of academic services, told the board that eight lower-performing schools will get intensive help by teams of district staff, and 13 will get help from at least one staff member in the district.
The new Partnership Zone and Point of Contact programs are a response, in part, to a diagnostic review from the state Department of Education that said the district was not providing enough support to Bryan Station High, which had been classified as a priority or persistently low-achieving school.
Terry Holliday, who was state education commissioner at the time, also said that the district would face state action if it did not provide better help to schools that were low-performing or had a significant achievement gap between minority, disabled and low income students and others.
The eight Partnership Zone schools, which will receive help from teams, were chosen based on test scores, the number of students classified as novice learners, and the fact that they were somewhat in a feeder pattern to Bryan Station High School. They are Northern, Deep Springs, William Wells Brown, and Mary Todd elementary schools; Bryan Station, Crawford and Winburn middle schools; and Bryan Station High School.
The teams will visit the schools and collect data, meet twice a month to monitor progress and solve problems, provide training for staff, and more.
The so-called Point of Contact Schools, which will get less intervention but ample help, are Harrison, Yates, Russell Cave, Cardinal Valley, Booker T. Washington, Millcreek, Arlington, Meadowthorpe, James Lane Allen and Tates Creek elementary schools; and Tates Creek, Leestown and Lexington Traditional Magnet middle schools.
Helm said the schools were making "great strides and gains," but district officials wanted to do all they could to help them.