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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Three new people will be on the JCPS Board of Education after the upcoming election day. District 7 may be the most contentious race.
"Pathetic!" That's the one word Chris Fell uses to describe the student assignment plan and the one reason he wants the District 7 seat.
Fell was the lead witness against the school district in a case that went before the state Supreme Court. He chose to homeschool his daughter rather than deal with student assignment.
He says, "If we were to eliminate the student assignment policy and roughly the 700 buses that JCPS bought for the assignment policy, that's well over $100 million every single year being saved. Think of that money as going to build new schools, furnish them with supplies the teachers need to properly do their job, and also staffing it with the best teachers money can buy. I think it's safe to say test scores will see a dramatic increase in the first year."
But another candidate has a contrary view: "Going back to neighborhood schools is not, not in reality a possibility," says Marty Bell. He had to fight to stay on the District 7 ballot after a group of teachers filed suit against him, claiming unfair campaign practices. They lost.
Bell once led the teachers union, worked as an administrator in JCPS for more than twenty years, and most recently retired as Chief Operating Officer for Greater Clark Schools. He says, "We can implement a student assignment plan where the neighborhoods are more co-terminous, that can respect our choice program and our magnet program."
Jim Sexton has been a principal in this community for nearly 40 years. But last week, he was placed on administrative leave from his post at Jeffersonville High School.
He says, "You have to start guaranteeing families that they will have a seat in their nearest or neighborhood schools. Students have disappeared to the surrounding counties. Shelby, Oldham, Spencer, and Bullitt are in a boom for schools. People are passing us by. A lot of talent is passing us by because there's no predictability."
Chris Brady, a former substitute teacher, has earned the endorsement of the Jefferson County Teachers Association. He's now a corporate trainer for Norton Healthcare. He says, "The 13 cluster assignment plan we are going to be going to is the best of both words. It gives you a smaller cluster size and an area around your neighborhood and gives you a choice of schools to go to."
Jonathan Robertson works in information technology. The father of two has one child in JCPS, and says, "Priority is neighborhood schools and parental choice. That's the first priority, and I also don't think we need to be raising taxes any more, at least not for a while.
District 7 includes communities such as Jeffersontown, Fern Creek, and Louisville's East End. It is the smallest in terms of schools in JCPS, with just 14, but the candidates all agree it holds the greatest population for new schools because the population is moving there. It's also the area most likely to see expansion, or a new school built.
District 7 has the most crowded collection of competitors. It is the only race where every one of them has invested in advertising.
Current board member Larry Hujo is not seeking re-election.