JCPS considers splitting up students in struggling middle school - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS considers splitting up students in struggling middle schools

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The crowd was small at the meeting for Frost Middle School parents in the Shawnee neighborhood The crowd was small at the meeting for Frost Middle School parents in the Shawnee neighborhood

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Radical changes could be on the way for some low performing JCPS schools. The school board is considering making changes in an effort to improve student and teacher performance.

District officials are considering a plan that would affect four schools and - in some cases - could require students and teachers to attend class up until 5 p.m. Those changes could take place as early as next school year. 

Community input meetings have been taking place across Louisville to discuss the proposed changes. On Monday, Frost Middle School parents in the Shawnee neighborhood brought their questions ready for district and school officials.

Parents expressed legitimate worries--everything from mixing age groups to longer school days. But the district says, this plan will work to bring the school up from its low performing ranks.

Alicia Price has an eighth grader at Frost Middle School. She said he has struggled since transferring there. "He cannot learn. They're not quiet. They can't get a hold of their class. There is no discipline or structure in the school, and so he can't focus."

Although her son is moving on next year, she came to one of many community input sessions to find out about proposed changes that are aimed at bettering the low performing school.

Part of the proposal is making Frost sixth grade only, while 7th and 8th graders will be sent to Valley High school.

The current principal at Valley High School, Robert Stephenson says the plan will allow the sixth graders more time to transition from elementary to middle without the distraction of upper classmen. "I think running that 6th grade academy will give those kids a year to mature and get ready for that 7th and 8th grade year."

The proposal also makes for a longer school day for 6th graders. District officials say school would end closer to 5 p.m. allowing for more learning.

Parents said they were concerned about transportation with the later school days. They also said they didn't want their kids getting home late.

But advocates assured busses would run late to all neighborhoods, and that the longer days would be worth it. They say it will give the kids the extra academic attention they need.

Concerns were also expressed about mixing 7th and 8th graders with high schoolers.

"If I had a 12-year-old daughter, I don't want her around high school boys, or vice versa with my boy and girls," said Price. "With the maturity levels, as a parent, you don't want that."

But Stephenson said the students will be well divided. "We'll house them in another section, we'll have separate lunch times, they'll run on a separate bell schedule," he said. "There will not be hardly any interaction with the high school kids."

Frost and Valley aren't the only schools facing changes. Myers Middle School and Shawnee High School are also on the agenda for changes.

At Myers Middle School, plans call for adding a magnet program for a Cadet Academy, where students would focus on ROTC. The district claims students in the program have fewer suspensions, better attendance and better test scores.

The Academy at Shawnee, which is one of the lowest performing schools in the state, would focus on community based learning -- partnering with the University of Louisville to improve teacher and student performance.

And despite concerns, many parents from these struggling schools say--at this point--they're open to almost anything. "Anything that's going to make my child do better, I can go along with it," said Robert Garth, father of a 6th grader at Frost.

The JCPS School Board will hold a community work session before their regularly scheduled meeting on October 14. The work session is open to the public and starts at 4 p.m. 

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