Board OKs redistricting plan

Daily News (Bowling Green, KY) - Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Warren County Board of Education approved boundaries Monday for the new Jody Richards Elementary School after two attempts to pass the proposal failed. 

Board members ultimately voted to add the Claiborne Farms neighborhood to the Jody Richards district and decided that 29 students who were going to switch from Rockfield Elementary School to Rich Pond Elementary School instead will remain at Rockfield. 

The approved amendment, which was proposed by board member Garry Chaffin, passed 3-2, with Chaffin, Don Basham and Mike Wilson voting for it. Becky Evans and Kerry Young voted no. The final vote came after an original proposal and an amended proposal failed to pass. 

Jody Richards Elementary School, which will open in August, will take students from certain areas and neighborhoods that previously had been districted for William H. Natcher and Rich Pond elementary schools, according to the approved plan. 

Before the boundary proposal came up for a vote, Carol Miller, a resident of Claiborne Farms, asked board members to include her neighborhood in Jody Richards' district. Claiborne Farms was originally scheduled to stay in Rich Pond's district. 

Miller said she lives less than two miles from Jody Richards Elementary School on Elrod Road and can see it from her house. 

"I know it's not always about proximity, but it's disheartening to be that close to a school and not be in its district," Miller said. 

Hunter's Crossing, the neighborhood next to Claiborne Farms, is in Jody Richards' district, and it doesn't make sense for her 

neighborhood to be left out, Miller argued. In fact, in order to leave Claiborne Farms, a car or school bus would have to go through Hunter's Crossing, meaning buses would be in the same neighborhood but going to different schools, Miller said. 

One of her children attends Rich Pond Elementary School, and when Jody Richards was built, she wasn't concerned about districting because she knew either school would be good. 

"But I never dreamed that we'd be separated from our neighbors," Miller said. 

So Basham proposed amending the boundaries of Jody Richards Elementary School to include Claiborne Farms, but the amendment failed to pass. Only Basham and Wilson voted for it, with Evans and Young voting no and Gary Chaffin abstaining. 

Evans argued that if Claiborne Farms was added to Jody Richards' district, then Spindletop, a neighborhood that connects to Claiborne Farms on the other side, would be the only one in the group of neighborhoods that wouldn't be part of the Jody Richards district. 

"How would those students feel in Spindletop?" Evans said. "I feel like we would be doing the same thing for those students." 

Young said he expected Jody Richards' district would be handled the same way as Plano Elementary School's was when it first opened: The school would be underpopulated for a couple of years until officials could determine how growth occurred in the area, and then more students would be added. 

Jody Richards is built to hold 750 students, but fewer than 450 will be there next year. 

The original Jody Richards boundary proposal - without any amendments - also failed to pass. Only Evans and Young were in favor of that, with Basham, Wilson and Chaffin voting no. It appeared the boundary proposal would have to be tabled when Chaffin proposed another amendment. 

Chaffin suggested that Claiborne Farms be added to the Jody Richards district and also that students who were expected to move from Rockfield Elementary to Rich Pond Elementary would remain at Rockfield. Rockfield is over capacity, and 29 children were originally set to move to alleviate the problem. But Chaffin said moving 29 students wouldn't do much to solve the overcrowding problem. 

Miller said she was pleased with the outcome. 

"I think the best interests of the kids were voted on tonight," she said.