This from the Courier-Journal:
Time is growing very short in the 2017 General Assembly for the controversial bill to allow children to attend the public school closest to their home.
Although Sen. Dan Seum, the champion of the so-called "neighborhood schools bill" in the Kentucky Senate, said earlier this week a new version of the bill would make compromises – primarily that the bill would apply only to grade schools – some key senators said Wednesday they still have concerns.
And the bill is not on the agenda to be considered at Thursday's meeting of the Senate Education Committee.
"I think the feeling is that bill is going to languish. I don't think it will move," said Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, a Lexington Republican who is on the Education Committee. "There's a feeling that we need to be concentrating on the charter schools bill, I know my thinking is that we ought to keep our focus on charter schools."
Sen. Dan Seum
But Seum said Wednesday he's working to secure votes for the bill in the committee. "I think we still have a very good chance of that happening," he said.
House Bill 151 passed the House on a 59-37 vote two weeks ago. Since then it has been awaiting consideration by the Senate Education Committee. Sen. Mike Wilson, the Bowling Green Republican who chairs that committee, said Wednesday only that the bill is not on his committee's agenda for Thursday, and he referred all other questions about the status of the bill to Seum.
The bill would require school boards across Kentucky to give priority for school assignments to students who live closest to a particular school starting with the 2019-20 term, although it includes exceptions for certain situations and for places like magnet schools. If the nearest school is full, the district would give that child priority for assignment to the next-closest school.
Several senators said they've heard from a huge number of opponents of the bill from Jefferson County who say it could harm black and low-income students, give rise to the return of segregated schools and cause a logistical nightmare.
The Education Committee is comprised of three Democrats and nine Republicans. And it takes seven of the 12 committee members to approve a bill and send it to the Senate floor.
Most Democratic legislators oppose the bill, but support among the committee's Republicans is uncertain. Kerr said she is "probably leaning against the bill." And Sen. Max Wise, a Campbellsville Republican on the committee, said he is opposed.
Six Republican members of the committee said they had not taken a final position on the bill, most of them noting that they had yet to see the substitute bill that Seum described in interviews early this week as restricting the bill to apply to only grade schools.
"I hate to comment on a bill I haven't seen," said Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon. "...If nothing else comes out of this, it has at least started a lot of conversation about the need for change in Jefferson County."
Sen. Stephen West, R-Paris, said, "I see both sides of the issue. We had busing to desegregate – and that was good and helped with the constitutional issues Louisville had at one time. But there's something to be said for a child going to the closest school and not having to sit on a bus for two hours."
Wednesday was the 26th day of a legislative session that can last no more than 30 days. Seum said if the committee does not take up the bill Thursday, he hopes the committee will meet Monday to do so.
"We still have about four or five working days to get this thing on the agenda. It ain't dead yet," he said.