Redistricting group gives first report to Board of Education
Fayette County School system redistricting committee chair and former school system employee Mike Smith gave his first report to the Fayette County Board of Education Monday night. While the committee’s work to propose new school boundaries stemming from the two school closure options is still in its initial stages, Smith said the committee is progressing with its work.
Option A would close Fayette Middle School, Hood Avenue Primary School and Fayetteville Intermediate School (FIS) and open the under-utilized 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 fewer than 100 of the county special education students.
Smith gave the board an update of the committee’s work to date. He said the boundary work had begun and that the committee was reviewing the feeder patterns from which middle school students transition to the county’s high schools.
Smith in the report noted the current student capacities at the Fayette County’s middle and high schools.
For middle schools, the capacity at Flat Rock Middle is 81 percent, Booth Middle is 90 percent, Bennett’s Mill Middle is 51 percent, Fayette Middle is 64 percent, Rising Starr Middle is 90 percent and and Whitewater Middle is at 69 percent.
For high schools, Sandy Creek High is at 83 percent capacity, McIntosh High is at 103 percent capacity, Starr’s Mill High is at 85 percent, Fayette County High is at 78 percent and the capacity at Whitewater High is 97 percent.
Smith in the report said the committee is meeting in small groups and is listening to input from citizens. Noting the upcoming public meeting, the second for the group, Smith said the committee was considering a different focus for that occasion.
He also reminded the board that the committee is determined to be transparent and communicate with the community and that the school system’s website with committee information is updated weekly.
However, an Open Records request from The Citizen to Superintendent Jeff Bearden to provide each parent volunteer’s school affiliation is going into its second week with still no compliance by the system with the request.
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.
During September, the committee will continue to 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.