JCPS still debating where to move Kennedy Metro Middle alternati - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS still debating where to move Kennedy Metro Middle alternative program

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 LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – It's Jefferson County's only alternative middle school – a place for students with behavioral problems to go upon being referred by the district, juvenile court or other state and county agencies.

But next fall, Alex Kennedy Metro Middle School in Jeffersontown will become an elementary school – and officials with Jefferson County Public Schools are still not sure where they will put the 100 or so sixth through eighth graders in need of an alternative school.

“This is something that needs to be figured out as soon as possible,” said Chris Brady, a school board member who represents southeastern Jefferson County. “A lot of people are asking and I am concerned about the amount of time it has taken to figure this out.”

During an Oct. 13 meeting, school board members approved the boundary changes for Alex Kennedy Elementary School – located at 4515 Taylorsville Road – which district officials say is needed to help reduce elementary overcrowding in the east end.

“I am all about making (Alex Kennedy) available as an elementary school to free up seats, I think it's something that needed,” Brady said during the meeting. “(But) I want to make sure we are not going to be disbanding that school and that we are moving them as a unit to another facility.

“Kennedy Metro Middle provides an important service and I want to be able ensure not only the staff there, but also the students and parents who rely on the facility, that we are not going to use some transitional plan model and break the school up,” Brady said.

During that meeting, Superintendent Donna Hargens told the school board the middle school alternative program will be “relocated to another facility” within the district and that she will make a recommendation by December.District officials had proposed during a June 13 work session to move the Kennedy Metro alternative program to Liberty High School, a non-traditional school located in central Jefferson County for students 16 years old or older that mainly serves under-performing students and stresses an interactive learning environment.

In turn, Liberty would move to the Myers Middle School campus on Pulliam Drive, but that suggestion was later pulled from consideration by the district.

The Myers Middle building currently houses the Phoenix School of Discovery, as well as some preschool and special education classrooms. The middle school closed at the end of the 2013-14 year and its students were reassigned to Waggener High in St. Matthews this fall.

Jackie Wisman, the district's director of safe and drug free schools, said students are placed in alternative programs after they fail to control their behavior after receiving repeated disciplinary measures from their home school or if they commit a serious offense.

“Alternative placement offenses include, but are not limited to, fighting, assault, striking students or school personnel, committing terroristic threatening, possessing or transferring a deadly weapon, using a dangerous instrument, or wantonly defacing, destroying, or damaging personal property of school personnel on or off school property,” he said.

Wisman said the district's alternative programs are valuable.

“The overall goal is to help students improve academic skills, become more self-sufficient and develop self-control,” Wisman said.

Meanwhile, the district is getting ready for its elementary Showcase of Schools, which will be held Saturday, Nov. 15 at the Kentucky International Convention Center – and there will be a booth for the new Alex Kennedy Elementary School.

Alex Kennedy Elementary will open at the start of the 2015-16 year with approximately 250 students – some of whom will come from Klondike Lane, Cochrane, and St. Matthews elementaries, district officials say.

After the board approved the boundary change, JCPS sent letters to families of 175 students who were impacted from Klondike Lane, Cochrane and St. Matthews, notifying them that they could either stay at their current school or move to the new elementary school, said Bob Rodosky, executive director of data, planning and program evaluation.

“We have also changed our school locator information so that people who attend the Showcase of Schools will know that if they live in this area, this will be their new assignment,” Rodosky said. “Families who live in Cluster 8 will be able to select Alex Kennedy as one of their choices.”

Cluster 8 also includes Bates, Farmer, Fern Creek, Jeffersontown, Watterson and Wheeler elementary.

Approximately 77 students from Watterson Elementary were also impacted by the boundary change, but they are being given the option of staying at Watterson or moving to Klondike Lane, Rodosky said.

Kennedy Metro was built in 1955 and was an elementary school until 1980. It became a book depository in 1982 until 1996, when the district made it an alternative school.

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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