Fayette school board agrees to allow leeway on some school attendance rules in the fall

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

Glendover Elementary School is going to have some empty seats next fall.

Cassidy Elementary will be so crowded that the school will need at least one portable classroom.

“I think it’s rather ludicrous to put children in portables when we have empty classrooms,” Glendover principal Catherine Fine told the Fayette County school board Monday night, presenting a united front with Cassidy principal Rhonda Fister.

Glendover was just renovated to accommodate 650 students but is projected to have about 545 after new attendance zones take effect in the fall, Fine said.

And Fister said that no school should have more than 800 children, which is the situation Cassidy is facing.

“The reality is that’s not good for children,” she said.

Based on the two school’s situations, Myron Thompson, acting senior director of operations and support, and Steve Hill, pupil personnel director, asked the school board if they could bring back, on a limited basis, the district’s continuation plan, at least until there’s a new elementary school in the Richmond Road area not far from Cassidy.

Additionally, schools with extra space such as Glendover could be open to students who are assigned to other schools but would like to go to schools with room.

The board agreed to allow those changes for the time being.

Under the continuation plan, which was to end in the fall when two new elementary schools open, students assigned to overcrowded schools are sent to an alternative school instead of their neighborhood school. Glendover is a designated alternative for Cassidy. The schools are less than 2 miles apart.

Redistricting and ending the continuation plan are being blamed for the expected overcrowding at Cassidy and the loss of students at Glendover.

Fine said Glendover expects to lose one classroom at each grade level except for fifth grade in 2016-17.

She said the school also expects to lose as many as six teachers, and principals at other schools say they are losing teachers, too.

The continuation plan was unpopular with many parents whose children were unable to go to schools with their neighbors.

But with its discontinuation, schools built for 650 students are expected to have at least 700 and possibly exceed 800. In addition to Cassidy, those schools include Veterans Park, Julius Marks, Wellington, Athens-Chilesburg and Rosa Parks.

School board vice chairman Melissa Bacon stressed Monday night that no school attendance zones would be changed at this point.

The redistricting plan was approved in June after an arduous and sometimes contentious process.

Meanwhile, unless the district finds other solutions at the overcrowded schools, 11 portable classrooms will be installed at the schools with a one-time setup cost of more than $921,000. The yearly expense for portable classrooms would increase by $79,200 a year.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears