JCPS school board approves change in assignment plan - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS school board approves change in assignment plan

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- By a narrow margin, the Jefferson County school board approved a major change in how the district assigns its students.

The board approved a measure Monday night that would retool the elementary clusters – increasing the number of clusters from 6 to 13. Supporters of the plan say it will help eliminate the long bus rides that have plagued students for years as the district has tried to maintain diversity in the classroom.

Critics of the plan said it would also eliminate school choices for students, particularly in some of the poor areas, where fewer students would be allowed to attend the top-performing schools.

An effort during Monday's school board meeting to delay the vote failed. The board passed the overhaul measure by a 4 to 3 vote.

"That's the one thing we have been hearing is that we need shorter bus rides and this plan gives us the option to do that," said Carol Haddad, a school board member.

But three board members – along four speakers who addressed the board – argued for the failed motion that would have delayed the vote to allow for more public input.

School board members Joe Hardesty and Debbie Wesslund said there have been plenty of public forums and months of work put into this configuration of 13 clusters. Those two were joined by members Larry Hujo and Carol Haddad in supporting the measure.

Raoul Cunningham with the NAACP told reporters he was disappointed by the board's vote, but said he knew it was a tough decision.

"We believe the 6 clusters was better than 13 because it limits accessibility for some students to attend the higher performing schools," Cunningham said.

Voting with the majority, Hujo was the only one of the four to express some hesitation among those who supported the measure.

"We're not forcing this county to diversify itself. Yet, everyone looks to the school board to come up with some magic bullet to fix the problem with diversity," Hujo said.

The Kentucky Supreme Court is still considering a case involving the student assignment plan. The state's highest court took the case after parent won an appeals court ruling, citing that students should be able to attend their neighborhood schools.

It's unclear when the high court could make its ruling.  

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