Louisville Votes New Busing Plan
Louisville, Ky--After weeks of often bitter public debate, the Jefferson County Board of Education has approved a compromise busing plan, negotiated by representatives of civil-rights groups and lawyers for the board.
The Rev. C. Mackey Daniels, the board's vice chairman and its only black member, cast the lone dissenting vote against the compromise plan, which will be phased in over the next two years.
It will replace an unusual alphabet-based desegregation plan, in effect here since 1975, that makes busing assignments based on the first letter of a student's last name. The new plan calls for geographical assignments, based solely on where students live, beginning this fall for high-school students and in 1985 for students in middle schools.
Students in elementary schools will continue to be bused according to the first letters of their last names, but beginning in 1986, the alphabet groupings that determine which students are bused in each grade will be changed, along with some school boundaries.
Superintendent of Schools Donald Ingwerson's original proposal to change the busing plan, made public in February, was bitterly attacked by blacks and some whites as racist and unfair.
The most frequently cited objec-tion to his proposal was that it called for some predominantly black neighborhoods to become "satellites" for suburban secondary schools, but did not require that any predominantly white neighborhoods serve as noncontiguous zones for formerly black schools.
Critics also attacked the attendance zone that Mr. Ingwerson proposed for Central High School, the county's only historically black high school.
The compromise plan, worked out by the board's lawyers and a team that included lawyers for the plaintiffs in the original desegregation case as well as representatives of the local naacp, gave Central a new attendance zone that includes a portion of Louisville's affluent East End.
The plan did not designate any white neighborhoods as satellites, but the civil-rights negotiators agreed to consider some students in contiguous but gerrymandered attendance zones as reassigned "for desegregation compliance."
The compromise plan also included agreements that: no school in a predominantly black neighborhood would be closed; desegregation compliance would be measured against a stricter definition than Mr. Ingwerson had first proposed; and a new assistant superintendent, responsible for desegregation compliance, affirmative action, and minority affairs, would be hired.