Tough challenges on redistricting

If all children in Lexington attended the public schools nearest their homes, Wellington Elementary would have 1,163 students and Russell Cave Elementary would have 42.

Reassigning students to three new schools scheduled to open in 2016 and 2017 will be part of the upcoming redistricting plan.

But there's no way around also moving students among existing schools, as illustrated by the imbalance between Wellington, which serves an area in southern Lexington where a lot of new housing has been built, and Russell Cave in farm country north of town.

The state recommends an enrollment of 650 for elementary schools. The Fayette district accommodates the overflow at some schools by renting portable classrooms, while other schools are under capacity, which is like paying for a storage unit when there's space in your closets and attic.

New schools will have to be built if the district keeps growing at its current pace; still, it's disrespectful to ask taxpayers for new buildings when old ones have space available.

Granted, there are other considerations, such as the costs — in money and time — of transporting students. Also significant are the benefits of being educated in a diverse community of classmates.

A 29-member committee, chaired by businessman Alan Stein, has been weighing these and other considerations.

The committee will develop and recommend a redistricting plan to the elected board of education. Thanks to Stein and the other community members for shouldering this difficult but necessary task.

Nothing stirs parents like concerns for their children's education. Lexington is especially passionate about education, which is one of the city's greatest assets.

People also get worked up about property values and home sales, which are influenced by school assignments but should not drive district decisions or education policy.

As the committee and school board keep hearing passionate pleas, here's something for everyone to remember: The reason for this process is not to grease squeaky wheels. The point of redistricting is to make the whole machine work as efficiently and beneficially as possible for all concerned.