Tensions flare over neighborhood schools bill at Fern Creek town hall meeting
Parents voiced concerns over re-segregation and magnet programs in JCPS schools.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Tensions flared Saturday morning at a town hall meeting to discuss the neighborhood schools bill.
Phones were out and signs were raised that read "Black Students Matter" during a discussion with lawmakers at the Fern Creek Library.
“We cannot go back prior to 1975 in Jefferson County. We have got to have integrated schools,” said concerned parent Amy Shir, who lives in eastern Jefferson County.
At issue is House Bill 151. Its purpose is to allow students to go to the school closest to their home.
“It gives a child a first chance to go to a neighborhood school if that's what they choose. It does not mandate anything,” said Rep. Kevin Bratcher, the bill’s sponsor.
But some worry the bill would push back racial progress.
“That is unacceptable for our poor black students that are living in segregated neighborhoods. They will not have access to the equal opportunities that the families, where I live on the east end, have,” Shir said.
Although the bill does not affect magnet or traditional schools, concerns were raised over magnet programs at other schools.
“This does not prevent magnet programs,” Rep. Bratcher said.
“Yes it does. You don't understand JCPS and that is clear from your answer,” said one parent in the crowd.
More specific questions like future funding of those programs and school capacity were also asked of the bill’s sponsor.
“That’s what I would like you to explain,” said a parent.
“I don't know how to run a school district,” Rep. Bratcher said.
“That's why you shouldn't be passing this bill,” said the parent while others in the crowd cheered.
The bill wouldn’t go into effect until 2019. Rep. Bratcher says there is plenty of time to get it worked out.
However, Sen. Morgan McGarvey says passing HB 151 without fully understanding it's impact is irresponsible.
“There are things that we could do better for parents. There's a student assignment plan that frankly needs updating as well. But I don't think that this is the answer to any of those problems,” Sen. McGarvey said.
House Bill 151 has already passed in the House of Representatives. Rep. Bratcher says it's likely it will pass in the Senate as early as next week and then become law.
Other issues like the Blue Lives Matter Bill and traffic lights were discussed at the town hall.
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