JCPS trying to address overcrowding concerns at Crosby Middle Sc - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS trying to address overcrowding concerns at Crosby Middle School

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Crosby Middle School's site-based decision making council has an idea how to fix overcrowding at the popular east end school.

The school currently has about 1,420 students and officials there would like to reduce enrollment by about 300 students, but not at the expense of its popular optional program.

"We are all in agreement that it's overcrowded and that something needs to be done and that it's not good for the children," said Michelle Bruner, one of two parents on the 12-member site-based council at Crosby.

The school's site-based council has proposed a solution to officials with Jefferson County Public Schools.

"We would accept 30 fewer optional program students a year for three years, if the district would give us 70 fewer resides kids each year for three years," Bruner said. "That would give us 300 fewer kids over a three-year period, starting with the 2016-17 school year."

The idea was discussed during a meeting held Monday night at the school to discuss "enrollment reduction" and "student assignment."

The meeting was attended by more than 200 people -- many of whom are parents of students at the school, or who have children hoping to attend Crosby in the future.

JCPS officials who attended the meeting, including Superintendent Donna Hargens and school board members Stephanie Horne, Chris Brady, Lisa Willner and Diane Porter, said no decision has been made on how to deal with overcrowding at Crosby.

In order to do what Crosby's SBDM council has proposed, the district would have to adjust its middle school boundaries and reassign students to other middle schools in the area -- a move that has not been discussed by Hargens or the school board.

Hargens said Crosby has already received a draft budget allocation for next school year that includes a projected enrollment of 1,397 students.

"That includes optional program students," Hargens said. "We do not have any plans to cut allocations or the projected enrollment for the 2015-16 year."

Crosby's optional program -- called the Liberal Arts Academy -- was created in 1994. District officials say the program has seen a 22 percent increase in enrollment since 2000.

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.

Fifteen people -- including the mayors of Douglass Hills and Middletown -- spoke during the meeting to express their frustrations about the overcrowding and fear that JCPS might try to move the optional Liberal Arts Academy and its high-performing students to another school.

Crosby has the largest enrollment of any public middle school in Jefferson County. It's located at 303 Gatehouse Lane in Douglass Hills near Middletown.

During a Feb. 3 SBDM meeting, several parents and teachers addressed the council about capacity issues

"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.

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