Fayette County Public Schools officials have made some headway on the problem created by a redistricting plan in which some schools would be too crowded and other schools in close proximity would have empty rooms.
School board members recently agreed that students reassigned through redistricting to some overcrowded schools — Cassidy, Veterans Park and Julius Marks — could voluntarily stay at their current schools instead. Several families have decided to stay at their current schools, said Myron Thompson, the district’s acting senior director of operations and support.
“We thought it was a pretty good compromise,” said Steve Hill, the district’s pupil personnel director.
The result is that Cassidy Elementary will need one portable classroom instead of two as district officials had initially indicated, Thompson said. Parents at Cassidy had voiced concerns about school operations if it became severely overcrowded.
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Based on initial projections, district officials initially anticipated up to 11 units being needed in the district with a one-time set-up cost of $921,783. Thompson said district officials have since determined that seven units are needed with set-up costs now at $586,586. The lease expense for the new units will be $50,400 per year.
In addition to the one unit at Cassidy, new portable classrooms now needed for 2016-17 include two units each for Julius Marks and Veterans Park and one unit at Northern Elementary. Edythe J. Hayes Middle School will also get one new portable unit.
Wellington Elementary, which had been scheduled for a portable classroom, won’t need one because the school is losing two preschool classrooms.
Also, officials said they think enrollment at Rosa Parks Elementary is going to be steady enough that Rosa Parks won’t have to get an additional portable classroom.
Fayette elementary schools are generally built for 650 students, but some schools have between 700 and 800 students.
To limit severe overcrowding, Thompson said the district recently set an enrollment cap at Cassidy of 775 students, at Veterans Park of 805, and at Julius Marks at 750. If the schools’ enrollment goes over the caps, students will be assigned to a less-crowded school, Thompson said.
Under the continuation plan, students assigned to overcrowded schools are sent to an alternative school instead of their neighborhood school.
The student continuation plan will be a last resort should a school reach its cap, Thompson said.
Two new elementary schools are opening in Fayette County in the fall of 2016, which led to attendance boundaries being redrawn in a redistricting plan.