LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jefferson County Public Schools is considering a proposal that could essentially combine Frost and Stuart middle schools and move them to the Stuart Middle campus and begin to phase out the Valley Prep program at Valley High as early as this fall. 

The proposal, unveiled during a JCPS school board work session on Tuesday would entail:

  • Moving the Frost Sixth-Grade Academy and Valley Prep to the Stuart Middle School campus. All rising sixth-grade students would attend a separate, small sixth-grade academy (approximately 434 students) on the Stuart campus.
  • Rising seventh- and eighth-grade students currently assigned to Valley Prep and Stuart would attend a separate, small seventh- and eighth-grade academy on the Stuart campus (643 students in 2016-17 year and 848 students in the 2017-18 year). 
  • The sixth-grade academy and seventh- and eighth-grade center would be separate and distinct schools located on the Stuart campus.
  • Current seventh graders at Valley Prep, who will be eighth graders next school year, would stay at Valley Prep with their teachers to finish the 2016-17 school year.

Superintendent Donna Hargens said the proposal would strengthen educational opportunities for students who currently attend Frost Sixth-Grade Academy, Stuart Middle School, and Valley Preparatory Academy.

"Frost has had some real success with how to run a sixth grade academy," Hargens said. "There's an experienced principal there, there's a staff, they've done amazing things so what we would do is relocate that. Make sure they have more numbers so you add the other sixth graders so you would have a school of about 400 students."

Hargens said the result would be two separate schools – one for sixth grade, retaining the structure currently in place at Frost, and one for seventh and eighth graders – each with its own, independent leadership and staffing structure. 

In addition to the physical location changes, JCPS would increase resources to support academic achievement, extended learning and teacher training at the new schools. There would be no reduction in teachers with the new configuration, Hargens said.

Under the proposal, the current site of Frost Sixth-Grade Academy would be sold and the savings reinvested in the new schools to support improved teaching and learning. Savings recouped from maintenance and transportation would also be reinvested in the new schools, Hargens said.

JCPS will host a series of community meetings on the proposal beginning next week. All meetings will be held at 6 p.m.

  • Monday, March 14: Carter Elementary School
  • Tuesday, March 15: Valley High School
  • Wednesday, March 16: Academy @ Shawnee

Turnaround efforts at Jefferson County’s eight chronically low-performing middle schools have presented ‘unique challenges’ when it comes to improving academic achievement and increasing student growth.

In addition to the proposal for 2016-17 year, Hargens also said the district is considering adding a new program that is similar to Lexington's Carter G. Woodson Academy as possible turnaround model.

"The creation of a school like Carter B. Woodson Academy would not be for this fall, but next fall," Hargens said.

Carter G. Woodson Academy is a school offering an advanced and rigorous curriculum through the lens of African American history, culture and culturally responsive teaching and learning strategies.

Although the school is open to all males in grades six-through-12, 86 percent of the 184 students in the traditional college-prep program at the Woodson Academy are black and 6 percent are Hispanic. Of the school's entire enrollment, 60 percent qualify for free and reduced price lunch.

Throughout the day, students are called scholars and they wear uniforms consisting of a navy blue blazer and a purple tie. There is a strong emphasis on academics, structure and expectations, but also the importance of family and community involvement.

WDRB recently spent a day at the Carter G. Woodson Academy. You can read that story here.

Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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