JCPS board holds off vote to radically change struggling schools - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS board holds off vote to radically change struggling schools

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The JCPS Board of Education is holding off on approving radical changes to the district's lowest performing schools. The board said it still had too many questions about the plans after a special work session Monday, and will wait for more information before making a decision.

JCPS board members are leaving no stone unturned, as they consider changes to two middle schools and two high schools.

"We have a lot of unanswered questions, so we need to spend some time getting these questions answered," said board member Diane Porter.

Questions center around plans to take Frost Middle School to 6th grade only, extend the school day, and move 7th and 8th graders over to Valley High School.

Also in the plans, Meyer's Middle School would add 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.

Shawnee High School would partner with the University of Louisville to create overarching change in administrative roles. The district said funding for the program will come equally from U of L and the district.

At the work session Monday, JCPS staff presented a compilation of feedback from parents and teachers. The information was collected over the last few weeks at community meetings across the district.

The presentation showed that parents from Frost expressed concern over mixing middle school with high school students, and extending the school day and causing transportation concerns.

Parents of students at Myers said they were worried that the Cadet Academy would militarize the school day, and prepare students for the military rather than everyday life.

Finally, parents at Shawnee were worried that focusing too much on administration rather than students will not lead to improvements.

Board members echoed parents' concerns but were still excited about the discussion. "I applaud the district for taking on these schools. Each one of these schools has been chosen because their performance hasn't improved. We have to do something," said board member David Jones.

JCPS Chief Academic Officer Dewey Hensley says the process of fixing these troubled schools won't come easily, or quickly. 

"It can be a little bit messy but generally the product is better," Hensley said. The product is successful students. "We're looking at a way not to do flashy change, but real change that's substance."

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