JCPS seeks board approval for four new magnet programs in 2017-1 - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS seeks board approval for four new magnet programs in 2017-18

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Four new magnet programs -- including a long-awaited high school Montessori program -- are among additional options Jefferson County Public Schools students would be able to choose from starting next year if the programs are approved by the school board on Tuesday night.

A total of nine schools submitted applications for new magnet programs to start during the 2017-18 year, but only four will brought to the Jefferson County Board of Education for consideration. They include:

  • Guitar magnet at the Youth Performing Arts School at duPont Manual High
  • District-wide Montessori program at Central High School
  • Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M) magnet program at Brandeis Elementary
  • Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M) magnet program at Olmsted Academy North

Each of the four schools used the district's newly developed magnet application process in asking for the magnets, said JCPS Chief Academic Officer Lisa Herring, in a report she will present to the school board.

The process required schools to present a clear rationale and detailed description of their proposed optional/magnet program including plans to sustain the program, curricular alignment and professional development needed to support the magnet theme, among other things.

Herring said each magnet application was "reviewed and approved to move forward by a cross departmental district team using a newly created rubric aligned to the magnet application and standards."

The application then had to be reviewed and approved by Superintendent Donna Hargens and her cabinet.

In addition to the applications being considered for board approval, five schools submitted a magnet application that will not be moving forward at this time:

  • K-8 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) magnet program at Crums Lane Elementary School
  • Fully implement Spanish immersion program at Hawthorne Elementary School
  • Fine Arts magnet at Carrithers Middle School
  • Cambridge Advanced Program at Lassiter Middle School
  • Expansion of Montessori program at Westport Middle School

Herring says the magnet applications not moving forward at this time are due to concerns surrounding transportation, budget and finance, boundary changes and or issues with enrollment and available space.

Following the successful launch of a Montessori magnet program at Westport Middle School six years ago, JCPS officials have been talking about expanding the Montessori program to include high school grades since at least 2013.

However, no concrete plan had emerged until September -- when Central High School submitted an application to start a Montessori magnet.

Montessori education is based on the work of Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator who discovered that many students perform best in an environment that nurtures individual learning styles and provides children with the freedom to purse a self-directed education.

During class, teachers set goals for the students and they are given time to reach those goals on their own and with the teacher's help if needed. And students are encouraged to tailor the lessons to their interests.

The program at Westport started in 2010 with 50 students in one sixth-grade class. Six years later, it has grown to more than 300 students.

This year, Westport submitted an application seeking to double the capacity of its magnet program to 200 students at each level, but the district did not approve that request due to transportation issues and the need to have to re-draw middle school boundaries and assign those students elsewhere.

If approved by the school board on Tuesday, the Montessori program at Central High would start with about 50 students in the ninth grade next year.

Further details on the other magnet applications were not immediately available on Monday morning.

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

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