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What Does the JCPS Board Vote Say About Student Assignment?

Of the 114,265 votes cast for Jefferson County’s three school board seats, nearly 30 percent went to candidates who strongly support some form of neighborhood schools.  Half of the 14 candidates that vied to serve the Jefferson County Board of Education supported reverting back to neighborhood schools. Currently, Jefferson County Public Schools bases assignment on criteria including race, income and educational attainment to meet diversity guidelines set by the board.In the end, none of the candidates supporting neighborhood schools won a seat.The election results pose an interesting question -- how popular is the concept of neighborhood schools among voters?In District 2, covering the Highlands and Crescent Hill and parts of Newburg, St. Matthews and Germantown: 25 percent of the 43,649 votes went to either Phil Haming or George Tolhurst, who both ran pro-neighborhood schools campaigns.In District 4, covering large sections of southwestern Jefferson County: 10 percent of the 28,928 votes went to with Erik Bullock or Chester Flake, whom both expressed support for neighborhood schools.But in District 7,  covering southeastern Jefferson County including Jeffersontown and Fern Creek: Pro-neighborhood schools candidates won the popular vote, with 51 percent of the 41,688 votes going to either Chris Fell, Jonathan Robertson or James Sexton. They expressed support for neighborhood schools.Attorney Ted Gordon, who has litigated against the JCPS student assignment plan for several years, argued that the neighborhood schools fight isn’t over -- and the support in District 7 is proof.Gordon also said that the new assignment plan that will be implemented for elementary schools next year will be closely monitored.The new plan includes 13 smaller clusters in which parents can choose schools and some students will be bused shorter distances.“It’s a clear mandate that we see what happens with 13 clusters and see if educational outcomes improve. So I think the jury is [still] way, way out,” said Gordon.