LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The new W.E.B. DuBois Academy would be located at the Gheens Academy near Male High School under a proposal presented Monday by acting Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Marty Pollio.

That’s one piece of an updated facilities plan Pollio brought before the Jefferson County Board of Education’s Facilities Committee. 

The proposal, which must be approved by the school board, calls for consolidations of the district’s English as a Second Language Newcomer Academy and Teenage Parent Program, or TAPP; relocations for some alternative schools and administrative services; and opening a pre-kindergarten center at the current TAPP building on Westport Road.

The W.E.B. DuBois Academy, which will feature an Afrocentric curriculum, is set to open next school year, and Pollio recommended putting the magnet program at the Gheens Academy once its ESL Newcomer Academy is grouped with three others at the Phoenix School of Discovery’s ESL Newcomer Academy as part of the proposal.

Pollio noted that would be a temporary solution for the W.E.B. DuBois Academy and that finding a permanent location for the academy for the 2019-20 school year is a priority.

“We’re currently working on that part of the plan,” he said after Monday’s meeting. “… There’s several options that we’re discussing right now. We are looking for something innovative and taking a real innovative approach to the DuBois Academy that is something that hasn’t been done before, so we believe it will be a different building. We just don’t know right now where that will be.”

Pollio said the plan could be altered before it goes to the school board for approval as his team considers feedback from the facilities committee and the community. He said he planned to hold forums at schools affected in the proposal.

Other pieces of Pollio’s proposal are:

  • Combining the two TAPP programs at the South Park TAPP location.
  • Moving the Phoenix School of Discovery to the Minor Daniels Academy building.
  • Moving Minor Daniels Academy to the Liberty High School building.
  • Moving Liberty High School to the Breckinridge Metropolitan High School building.
  • Moving Breckinridge Metropolitan High School to the Camp Edwards Academy building.
  • Moving academic services personnel at the Gheens Academy and VanHoose Education Center to the Jaeger Education Center.
  • Moving the Early Childhood Registration and Diagnostic Center  to the Lam Building.
  • Moving behavior support staff and the Safe Crisis Management team to the VanHoose Education Center.

In all, schools affected by the proposal serve about 1,800 students, according to enrollment numbers presented Monday.

Some on the facilities committee raised concerns that the plan could prove too robust to pull off in time for the 2018-19 school year. Others were worried about consolidating services like TAPP and the ESL Newcomer Academy at central locations.

Pollio said he believes consolidation can benefit students in the district. A central ESL Newcomer Academy site, for instance, would provide a single stop for a variety of needs like counseling and family services, he said.

When asked about the time needed to implement his facilities proposal, Pollio acknowledged that the plan was “aggressive” but said it could be completed in time for the next school year.

“I wouldn’t propose anything that I don’t think that we could get accomplished, but we’re going to have to get to work right away to make sure that we’re successful in moving these programs if that’s what’s passed by our board,” he told WDRB News.

Chris Kolb, a school board member who’s on the facilities committee, said there are still hurdles to clear before the proposal makes its way to the full board, but he sees more positives in the recommendations than negatives.

“It checks a lot of boxes,” he said after the meeting. “There’s minimal cost, minimal transportation disruption, and like I said, each school gets something good out of it.”

Pollio said he hopes to have a proposal for the board’s consideration by late January or early February.

Until then, he’s looking for feedback from those affected by the various moves and consolidations he outlined Monday.

“We want to be at every school and talk to the stakeholders at that school and make sure that we have community sessions for them to give feedback before we make any decision that we take in front of the board,” he said.

Reach reporter Kevin Wheatley at 502-585-0838 and kwheatley@wdrb.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinWheatleyKY.

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