Schools bill lacks common sense


The legislature’s “neighborhood schools” proposal in House Bill 151 is a logistical house of cards.

Make no mistake, it is engineered to fail.

The bill’s sponsor, Kevin Bratcher, R-Louisville, says it’s a “common-sense bill.”

That’s an easy phrase to throw around. Snap your fingers, pass a law and poof, we’re back to Mayberry with Opie walking to school.

The quaint idea that you can simply draw circles around a school to create the attendance district defies logic and common sense. There is no guarantee a child will attend the closest school — unless maybe they live next door to the school. And that’s no guarantee.

It’s then a crapshoot if you don’t make it into your neighborhood school. If the school is full, your child will move on down the line to the next closest school. So much for your neighborhood.

Look at examples in three systems: Oldham, Bullitt and Jefferson.

OLDHAM: Three elementary schools near Crestwood are in a one-mile radius — Kenwood Station, Camden Station and Crestwood. Lori McDowell, director of Oldham County Schools, said it would be “extremely difficult” to create effective neighborhood boundaries, and “we believe this is an overreach from the state that doesn’t account for the nuances of how a district draws school attendance zones.”

In other words, common sense is lacking.

Looking at Oldham, what’s fair when designating a neighborhood school? Certainly, students in remote areas won’t have a neighborhood school.

BULLITT: Superintendent Keith Davis uses the phrase “eroding local control” in a letter to the Senate Education Committee. In that letter, he outlined numerous issues from increased transportation costs to uncertainty and complications when eventually choosing a location for a new school.

That’s not common sense.

JEFFERSON: The district has logistical issues that are similar but are further compounded when factoring in unique and successful educational choices offered through magnet schools and programs.

When magnets are added to the equation, the calculus of shuffling students and drawing lines for student assignment areas become as complicated as any current system, but without the benefit of creating valued diversity within the system.

Will the successful magnet schools and programs eventually be jettisoned for the sake of offering “neighborhood schools?”

Common sense, again, proves it is just not that simple.

In all three examples, students unable to attend their nearby neighborhood school will be pushed to another nearby school. For some students, they will end up far from their neighborhood.

At a recent community forum, Bratcher summed up the inherent problem with the thinking behind his legislation: “Well, I don’t know how to run a school district.”

Well said, Mr. Bratcher.

Class dismissed.

Courier-Journal, Louisville

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