Crosby Middle School looking to reduce overcrowding issues - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Crosby Middle School looking to reduce overcrowding issues

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Office staff at Crosby Middle celebrate the school's 40th anniversary in November 2014. (Photo by Toni Konz) Office staff at Crosby Middle celebrate the school's 40th anniversary in November 2014. (Photo by Toni Konz)
Crosby Middle School Crosby Middle School
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Officials at Crosby Middle are looking at ways to reduce overcrowding at the east end school and a group of parents are hoping it will not come at the expense of its popular optional program.

The school's site-based decision making council is holding a special meeting at 5 p.m. Monday to discuss "enrollment reduction" and "student assignment."

Bob Rodosky, executive director of data management, planning and program evaluation for JCPS, will attend the meeting to present information on attendance trends at Crosby, said Ben Jackey, a district spokesman.

With approximately 1,450 students, Crosby has the most students of any public middle school in Jefferson County. It's located at 303 Gatehouse Lane in Douglass Hills near Middletown.

"The SBDM has asked for more information regarding capacity at the school," Jackey said. "No decisions have been made on solutions to this matter.”

However, the school's Parent Teacher Student Association is urging parents and community members to attend the meeting over concern that the district is trying to move the school's optional program -- called the Liberal Arts Academy -- to another location.

"The optional program cannot be moved," the post on Facebook reads. "(It was) built up by Crosby staff and the administration to what it is today."

An optional program in JCPS is a small, specialized program within a school. Students who live outside the school's attendance area may apply and be accepted, but JCPS does not provide transportation for these students.

According to JCPS data, approximately 235 students are enrolled in Crosby's Liberal Arts Academy, which offers them the opportunity to develop and enhance skills in the visual and performing arts. 

Students may participate in advanced art classes, art exhibitions, and musical productions. Crosby has one of the largest music programs among all district middle schools. Highlights include a piano lab and guitar classes.

The issue recently came to light during a Feb. 3 SBDM meeting at the school. 

At that meeting, principal Michael Kelly gave an update about a conversation he had with district officials, in which they asked about the school's Distinguished Math Scholars program and the optional program. During Kelly's meeting with district officials, the reduction of 30 optional program students and 70 from the east end resides area over the next three years was brought up.

"(JCPS) student assignment mentioned moving the program to another school," the minutes from the meeting read. "Bottom line, moving the optional program is eliminating it from Crosby. Reducing the number does not address the issues of space and overcrowding."

Kelly also told the SBDM council that Crosby had been written up by the fire marshal for overcrowding and the school had to address the issue in writing to the fire marshal and the safety department.

Several parents and teachers addressed the council about capacity issues, according to minutes from the Feb. 3 meeting.

"As a teacher, we have too many students, the halls are overcrowded, special needs students classrooms are beyond capacity," said Peggy Helm, a teacher at Crosby. "The special needs students aren't given the specialized individual attention due to the sheer numbers of students in the classroom. We need district assistance at this point in order effectively and adequately meet the needs of our students."

Helm said there are 13 teachers who use carts, which mean they are sharing classrooms. 

"Teachers (are) using the stairwell to meet, to use the phone, to plan," Helm said. "The teacher's lounge is used to eat and make copies, due to lack of space. Private calls take place under the stairwell for lack of any room to speak privately. All of this is due to overcrowding."

Tina Morris, a goal clarity coach at the school, agreed.

"We face challenges on a daily basis regarding the overcrowding issue," Morris said. "There is no privacy in the building to speak to adults or children when it is regarding a vulnerable or private matter. Every classroom is full during teacher planning periods. There is no place to meet for planning or discussions."

At the end of the Feb. 3 SBDM meeting, the council agreed that "eliminating or moving the optional program is not acceptable."

"Reducing the optional program is acceptable with a future plan to reduce resides enrollment," the minutes read. "The SBDM council supports a final enrollment of 1,100 or an increase of building space."

April Schemmel, a Crosby parent, said the PTSA is "pushing to keep our optional program and have eight rooms built onto the school."

Nicki Greenwell, whose son is in the optional program, said there is a fear among many parents that the optional program will be moved.

"We as parents based our decision on Crosby specifically because they have years of excellence," Greenwell said. "For that to be pulled out from under Crosby is not fair to the current student body, parents or teachers or future students."

Jackey said there has not been any discussion at the district level to move Crosby's optional program to another school.

"This would be an issue that would require school board approval," he said. "There is a lot of bad information out there and hopefully this meeting will provide parents with the correct information, as well as data that has been requested by the SBDM."

The Crosby PTSA Facebook post is urging parents to "take a stand now for all the kids in all the schools before it's too late and we no longer have any great educational programs for our children available."

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

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