The Floyd County Board of Education called a special meeting Wednesday night at Prestonsburg High School to cover a limited agenda — including a discussion about redistricting.
“The reason we have this on the agenda tonight is because we have been approached by several principals who have been requesting that we look at redistricting for their schools, where the buses travel and to where the kids actually go to school,” BOE Chairperson Sherry Robinson said. “Since we have had so much consolidation, they feel that they are losing students that should be in their district.”
She said she understands that redistricting is a “touchy” subject for many people, especially parents, and if something is done, it would need to be done “longevity-wise, not quick and short” to allow everyone the time to adjust.
“We want to determine what is best for the kids, the district and the area,” Robinson said. “This is a discussion we need to have, and something that needs to be done. We are not going to rush into a decision.”
Superintendent Danny Adkins also emphasized that the idea proposed by District Director of Transportation Joe Marson was just one plan and that there are several ways to look at several different things.
Marson opened by stating that the data presented to the board when previous discussions of redistricting had occurred had not been updated in some time, and was based on demographics, routes and distance.
Under this proposal, according to Marson, Allen Elementary would lose 140 students, but gain 110 from the area south of U.S. 23 and Banner Area, and be restructured to a kindergarten through fifth grade school. Bus routes would pick up students from Goble-Roberts, Water Gap, Colin Fork and Lake Road, as they are closer to Allen Elementary than to where currently traveling.
Marson’s plan has Prestonsburg Elementary losing an estimated 100 to 110 middle school students by restructuring to a kindergarten through fifth grade school, and it would gain 140 students living in the Banner Post Office Area north of U.S. 23.
Betsy Layne Elementary would absorb students from U.S. 23, Toler Creek and all of Prater Creek and remain a kindergarten through eighth grade school.
Marson said John M. Stumbo Elementary would gain approximately 60-80 students living from Ky. 670 to Ky. 3379, Toler Creek from the top of Ligon Hill, Ky. 979 to Frasure Creek and Neds Fork.
The South Floyd Elementary area, according to Marson, would include areas near McDowell Bridge along Ky. 122 to the top of Abner Mountain and Ky. 979 from Ligon Hill to Weeksbury and Wheelwright. South Floyd Elementary would lose an estimated 130-150 students under the proposal.
BOE Member Dr. Chandra Varia objected to using the out-of-date information for the discussion, pointing out that not all schools were listed. “As a board member, I need to have this information to consider the matter,” she said.
When Robinson pointed out that the presented information was just for discussion purposes, Varia reiterated her stance on the lack of information
“If we do not have accurate information upon which to base our discussion, then we cannot come to an informed decision,” she said.
“A decision will not be made today. We are telling Joe what information we need to discuss the idea,” said Robinson.
Marson said he would have to go back and collect updated information. Robinson also asked for maps showing bus routes, mileage, current enrollment data and information showing overlapping “gray” areas where kids living in an area attend multiple schools.
Adkins mentioned that he would bringing the idea to the school district principals meeting scheduled for May 23.
“We want to get their inputs. They have a better idea of those gray areas and other ‘X’ factors that we cannot see right now” he said. “I will also encourage those principals to attend the next meeting where we explore redistricting so they can contribute to the discussion.”
When asked when that further discussion might occur, Robinson said, “Not this school year — we have too much going on to give this matter the attention it deserves. We have time to gather what we need to make an informed decision, so probably sometime in the fall.”