The Wayne County Board of Education settled on a draft schedule for redistricting at a special called meeting Thursday.
Some dates are subject to change or have yet to be set, but an aggressive timeline is in place that would see elementary schools redistricted by March 2018.
Beginning with the Thursday meeting, the plan sets specific activities to be accomplished at 12 meetings between August and March 2018.
Those meetings would include monthly board meetings, work sessions and meetings of the policy and student assignment committees.
Superintendent Michael Dunsmore said that the plan deals specifically with elementary schools because that grade span is by far the most overcrowded. With the planned creation of 22 new classrooms at Fremont STARS Elementary and the construction of a new Meadow Lane Elementary, Dunsmore said the district has an opportunity to make a major, positive impact on elementary students, including potentially developing a military feeder pattern based on where military students most often go to school.
Under the new timeline, the months of September and October would be primarily dedicated to committee work. During that period, the policy committee will review Wayne County Public Schools policy "in light of board goals," according to the plan, in order to suggest additions, deletions or revisions to any policies related to redistricting.
The student assignment committee will begin a detailed analysis of county demographics, as well as determine how effectively the district is using its available space. By the September board meeting, both committees are expected to have reports ready, with more finalized reports by the October meeting.
Over the next two months, the full board will read over what the committees come up with, culminating in a proposed redistricting plan for elementary schools in January.
February will include public hearings on the proposed changes, where members of the community will have the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns. Board member Len Henderson said Thursday that he wants to have community members involved as advisors to the student assignment committee far before then.
"This is something that I've talked with [student assignment committee] Chairman Rick Pridgen about, and we'll be discussing more this evening, what are some of the other things we would like to see along with this drafted information?"
Pridgen called having stakeholder involvement "vital" to getting the community on board with redistricting.
Board member Chris West was wary of the drafted plan, saying that it rushes through the process and does not give the district enough time to figure out what the real problems are.
"This may catch some of you off guard, but I'm not completely sold on redistricting," he said. "When I was the chairman of this board for two years, I spoke with several school districts that had taken on redistricting or had considered redistricting, and at best, some of them said it was a two-year process. I think we have a lot of work to do data-wise before we even consider redistricting our schools."
By focusing first on the elementary level instead of hitting every level at the same time, Dunsmore said, the task is made more manageable. He agreed that the district has its work cut out for it, but was optimistic that his staff was up to the task.
"When it comes to the work we have to do, Mr. West is spot on," Dunsmore said. "We have a lot to get done."