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BoE approves massive redistricting for school attendance

4-to-1 final vote mirrors vote earlier this month that closed 4 schools

The vote to redistrict Fayette County public schools came March 18 on a 4-1 vote by the Fayette County Board of Education.

The redistricting followed what had been a long-fought battle by some parents to keep Brooks Elementary School and Tyrone Elementary School open. Fewer in number in recent months were the advocates for keeping Fayetteville Intermediate School and Fayette Middle School open. The vote to close all four schools came on March 4.

Board member Mary Kay Bacallao again was the lone opponent of the decision, saying prior to the vote that she could not support the redistricting plan due to some unresolved issues that could become problems in the future.

Commenting on Bacallao’s remarks, interim Superintendent Dan Colwell said there would have been issues “no matter what map we put out.”

And though only four schools will close, the redistricting that accompanies those closures, to varying degrees, will affect most of the county’s elementary and middle schools.

Adjustments to the new attendance zone maps have been made periodically during the past few months. Some of those adjustments, said to be minor in nature, were made as recently as Monday.

Some parents have expressed concerns that the maps have sometimes changed without input from members of the redistricting committee that began meeting in the fall.

The accompanying chart shows the current enrollment figures by school, the projected enrollment for the 2013-2014 school year based on the maps posted on the school system’s website Monday under the school board agenda and each school’s enrollment capacity.

It should be noted that the projections are just that since a number of variables such as the number of children entering kindergarten and students moving in or out of the county will not be known with certainty until school begins in August.

Asked by board member Barry Marchman how long the new school boundaries would last, Facilities Director Mike Satterfield said he expected the new lines to be good for six to seven years unless the county experienced large, unexpected growth.

Only five parents spoke about redistricting prior to the vote.

The number of speakers was far less than the many that spoke during the previous public hearings that centered on school closures.

The four schools slated for closure at the end of June currently serve approximately 1,700 students. Based on the redistricting, nearly all of the more than 300 students attending Tyrone Elementary will attend Crabapple Lane Elementary School while approximately 25 will attend Burch Elementary School.

Of the 250 attending Brooks Elementary, approximately 195 will attend Peeples Elementary School while approximately 43 will attend Inman Elementary School.

Of those attending Fayetteville Intermediate School, approximately 500 will attend Hood Avenue after the two schools combine, while approximately 100 will attend North Fayette Elementary School and approximately 150 will attend Spring Hill Elementary School.

Those attending Fayette Middle School will move to Bennett’s Mill Middle School, though that transition will mean that approximately 200 students currently attending Bennett’s Mill will be split between Booth, Flat Rock and Whitewater middle schools.

The closures and the resulting redistricting are part of a larger effort by the school board to trim approximately $15 million in expenses in the 2013-2014 budget that begins in July.

By far the largest of the historic cuts facing the school board are yet to come. Those cuts will come in the form of school system employees, perhaps as many as 250 or more, who will lose their jobs at the end of the school year. The school board will hold a called meeting on March 25 to discuss personnel allotments for next year.

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