JCPS board to vote on redesign of Frost and Stuart Middle, Valle - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS board to vote on redesign of Frost and Stuart Middle, Valley Prep

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Draft middle school floor plan at Stuart (JCPS) Draft middle school floor plan at Stuart (JCPS)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Less than two weeks after it was first announced, the Jefferson County Board of Education will be asked on Tuesday to vote on a proposal that would 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.

The plan, initially unveiled during a March 15 school board work session, will "create an optimal learning environment for middle school students and staff," according to a press release issued Friday about the final proposal.

Three community meetings were held this week about the plan at three locations across the district, but the meetings did not draw a big crowd or create much opposition to the idea of moving Frost Sixth-Grade Academy and Valley Preparatory Academy to the Stuart Middle School campus this fall.

District officials say the proposal "incorporates input from staff and parents" and would initially save about $425,000 in operational costs by closing Frost Middle, which is located 13700 Sandray Boulevard. Additional funds would be generated through the sale of the Frost building.

"Frost has had some real success with how to run a sixth grade academy," Superintendent Donna Hargens previously told WDRB News. "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."

Faith Stroud, principal of the Frost Sixth Grade Academy, has declined requests for WDRB to visit her school and talk about turnaround efforts.

In a statement provided to WDRB by the JCPS communications office, Stroud commented that, that the "transformational work is grounded in the belief that our scholars are worth whatever it takes. The initial implementation of the academy design has shown success. We are moving students and our data trajectory show us meeting (our annual measurable objective) at Frost for the first time this spring.” 

Last school year, only 19 percent of Frost Sixth Grade Academy students were proficient in reading, 13 percent were proficient in math, 18 percent were proficient in writing. At Stuart, 24 percent were proficient in reading, 14 percent were proficient in math, 19 percent were proficient in social studies, 8 percent were proficient in writing.

If approved by the school board on Tuesday: 

  • All rising sixth-grade students would attend a separate, small sixth-grade academy (434 students) on the Stuart Middle campus, 4601 Valley Station Road.
  • Rising seventh-grade students currently assigned to Stuart and Valley Prep and rising eighth-graders currently assigned to Stuart would attend a separate, small seventh- and eighth-grade academy on the Stuart campus. (In the 2016-17 school year the school is expected to have 643 students; in 2017-18; it is expected to have 848 students.)
  • 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.  The sixth-grade academy and seventh- and eighth-grade center would be separate and distinct schools located on the Stuart campus. 

District officials say the proposal provides an "additional investment to help staff the student population and support improved teaching and learning, one-to-one technology for all students, Summer Bridge learning opportunities for students and additional teachers."

"The staffing proposal is a tentative framework, as the principals would develop a detailed implementation plan for board approval after meeting with parents, teachers and administrators," the press release states.

Initial ideas in the proposal include:

  • One principal and for each school, and two assistant principals for each grade level
  • Ten additional teachers to support student academic needs
  • Four master teachers providing English/Language Arts and math support for each grade level
  • Increase in security staff
  • One to one technology for all students
  • Extended professional development and coaching for teachers
  • Summer Bridge and extended learning opportunities for students

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 for the 2017-18 year.

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.

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.

Copyright 2015 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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