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Transparency still lacking on school affiliations for redistricting group

Nearly two weeks after The Citizen’s first request — and after three subsequent requests — the Fayette County School System so far has not released the school affiliations of the 26 parents chosen to be a part of the new 42-member Redistricting Committee.

“The parents would rather not be identified by school since they see themselves as representing the entire district, not just their particular school,” Public Relations Officer Melinda Berry-Dreisbach wrote Sept. 5 in a reply to The Citizen’s second request.

In a third request the next day, The Citizen’s reporter tried to get names of the schools represented by the group of parents. “Are all of the parents from just one or two schools? Three or four schools? All schools?”

“I’ve been told that every school that is on the possible closure list is represented on the committee,” Berry-Dreisbach replied.

After a fourth request Tuesday, she said the request had been given to Superintendent Jeff Bearden.

The majority of the 42-member redistricting committee are parents, while others come from the school system and from the community.

Though their school affiliations have not been released to date, the parents on the committee include Brian Anderson, Brigitte Burkett, Monique Comiskey, Angela Ewers, David Gibson, Drew Groome, Julie Harp, Dan Hazlett, Beth Holliman, Tesha Lee, Kevin Mathison, Meghan McDonald, Laquinta Montgomery, Chrissy O’Neal, Michelle Phillips, Kimberly Reese, Anna Regi, Mark Ridges, Melissa Sanford, Tanshanika Smith, Vernon H. Smith, Jaimi Tapp, Brett Thomas, Yvonne Walker, Dee Wiberg and Dave Wisniewski.

Community members on the committee include Jenny McCurry, Doug Mickey, Patricia Moore, Sheila Pace, Pamela Reid and Harry Sweatman.

School system employees serving on the committee include superintendent Jeff Bearden, discipline, attendance, safety and athletics coordinator C.W. Campbell, bus route supervisor Valerie Gray, transportation director Michael Jennings, webmaster Peggy O’Farrell, deputy superintendent Fred Oliver, facility services director Mike Satterfield, committee chair Mike Smith, assistant superintendent Sam Sweat and route supervisor Becky Wilson.

The task of the Fayette County School System Redistricting Committee is to arrive at proposed school boundaries for both options dealing with the potential closure of several schools beginning next school year.

The two options at hand came by a consensus of the Fayette County Board of Education. The only charge to the committee is to arrive at possible school attendance boundaries.

Option A would close Fayette Middle School, Hood Avenue Primary School and Fayetteville Intermediate School (FIS) and open Rivers Elementary School to accommodate most of the children from the two elementary schools on Hood Avenue.

Option B would close Fayette Middle, close Tyrone Elementary School and Brooks Elementary School, consolidate FIS and Hood Avenue administratively at the existing campus and leave Rivers as it is now serving some of the county special education students.

The committee’s first public meeting was held Aug. 30 at Fayette County High School. Input gained from the more than 400 parents and community members at the meeting can be accessed on the homepage of the school system’s website at www.fcboe.org.

As indicated on the school system’s website, the purpose of the redistricting committee has been established to develop and recommend student attendance boundaries based on the two options identified by the school board.

A number of parameters were established for the committee. Those include:

• Serving as a voluntary advisory committee that will work with the superintendent and his staff creating attendance boundaries options for board consideration.

• Looking at the entire system during the redistricting process and make recommended changes that the committee believes will lead to greater efficiencies.

• Working to protect the integrity of neighborhoods and subdivisions.

• Using the “cluster” model in attempt to develop logical feeder patterns.

• Keeping in mind the distance students may have to travel to get to and from school.

The work of the committee is expected to extend into December.

In September, the committee will visit the elementary schools in Tyrone and Brooks, perform boundary work on middle and high schools to develop logical feeder patterns.

Feeder patterns are those that have students flow from elementary schools to middle schools and then to high schools.

The committee in September will also work on Option A that will address the potential closure of Fayette Middle, FIS and Hood Avenue and opening Rivers.

The committee in October will continue boundary work on Option A and will begin work on Option B, the potential closure of Brooks, Tyrone and Fayette Middle, consolidating FIS/Hood and leaving Rivers as it is. The committee in October will conduct a second public hearing/information meeting if needed.

In November, the committee will continue to work on Option B, conclude all work on boundaries, conduct two public hearings and prepare a report on boundary recommendations.

And in December, the committee’s recommended boundaries will be presented to the school board for a vote.

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