Neighborhood schools bill passes Kentucky Senate

By Elizabeth Donatelli - bio | email

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) – The student assignment plan in Jefferson County Public Schools could be out the window. After years of stories about children getting lost transferring buses and long commutes, parents may be able to guarantee their child can go to the school closest to their home. This comes after Senators voted in favor of changing the state law.

The vote was 21-17 with two Democrats crossing party lines and voting against it. Senate Bill 3 sailed through with less than two hours of discussion.

"Haste makes waste and that's what we're doing," said Sen. Walter Blevins, Jr. (D-Morehead). "That's what this Senate is doing today."

On the last day of part one of the session, more bills sponsored by Republicans sped through the Senate floor. There was little Democrats could do to stop them, as they make up the minority party, but complain.

"(We are asked to vote) without proper debate, without proper study, without proper fiscal notes," said Blevins.

Democrats didn't have the votes to stop Senate Bill 3, which would allow charter schools in Kentucky and neighborhood schools. This would change the student assignment plan as it stands in Jefferson County Public Schools.

Both sponsors of the bill said it was up to the state to help many of the Kentucky's worst performing schools

"I'm not willing to turn my back on children that aren't getting an appropriate education," said Senate President David Williams (R-Burkesville).

Williams co-sponsored the bill with Jefferson County Republican Sen. Dan Seum.

"We have a school system that's falling apart," said Seum (R-Fairdale). "It's not good. It ain't in the top 50 no more."

Jefferson County Sen. Denise Harper Angel (D-Louisville) jumped to the defense of her local district.

"We're well on the way to improving those achievement levels and I believe to continue to do that all this control of the student assignment plan needs to stay in control of the local districts," said Harper Angel who voted against the bill.

Sen. Tim Shaughnessy (D-Louisville) voiced his concern. He blames Williams for removing him from the Education Committee right before the bill was heard.

"We are going to have to build new schools and that is going to cost the taxpayers of Jefferson County, Kentucky somewhere between $200-230 million, money that is not provided in this bill," said Shaughnessy.

Of the nine Jefferson County senators, all five Republicans voted in favor of the bill while the four Democrats voted against it.

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