LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – More than half of JCPS students would be impacted by a new bill passed in the Kentucky's House of Representatives, according to the district's superintendent.
It's called the 'neighborhood schools' bill and allows students to attend the school closest to where they live. There are exceptions for schools with prerequisites, magnet schools and charter schools, if they come about.
Representatives debated the bill, sponsored by Jefferson County republican Rep. Kevin Bratcher, for nearly three hours Thursday.
"It is a shameful and shocking day in the Kentucky house of representatives," Rep. Darryl Owens (D – Jefferson) said. "It is a direct attempt to further re-segregate Jefferson County schools."
"It's so common sense to me," Rep. Bratcher argued.
"This is a reach. It is a power grab," Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D – Jefferson) said. "I'm offended as a resident of Jefferson County that you all don't
think we know what we're doing up there."
When Bratcher was asked about the bill's impact on JCPS, he said, "I couldn't get anything official."
Friday, Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens said the district is very concerned about the bill.
"It will have a tremendous impact on JCPS," Dr. Hargens said.
The front page of the JCPS website has a link to the district's review of the bill. It includes a rundown of its impact and maps showing simulations
of how it will play out.
"The choice is taken away because your choice is the nearest school," Dr. Hargens said.
Currently, JCPS believes Atherton High School, The Academy at Shawnee and Crosby Middle School would see the biggest impact.
The bill now moves to the Senate where similar bills have passed in previous sessions. They always failed in the Democrat-controlled House.
Dr. Hargens said the district will continue trying to explain the impact to legislators.
"We're trying to make sure we give them the information that we have," Dr. Hargens said. "We're the best to assess the impact."
If passed, the bill wouldn't kick in until the 2019-2020 school year. Students would not be removed from schools they're currently attending. However,
as students moved up into new schools they would fall under the bill.
"I know that families buy homes to make sure they're in the resides of certain schools so it takes away that certainty," Dr. Hargens said.
The bill's target is JCPS, but the law will apply to every state district.
"Let's look at what really moves kids forward because this is not it, folks," rep. Joni Jenkins (D – Jefferson) said Thursday.
Students are not forced to go to the school closest to them currently.
However, if they school they'd like to attend has more demand than room, the students closest to the school get first pick.