LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Marty Pollio rolled out a five-point plan on Thursday that he believes will boost student achievement and improve operations within the district.
Pollio shared the proposal at Frederick Law Olmsted Academy North, where he toured a mechanical engineering class and spoke with faculty and students.
Uncertainty surrounding the ongoing JCPS audit by the Kentucky Department of Education is a concern for Pollio, but he believes the plan fits the department's priorities in the audit. He also said he has shared his ideas with the KDE before releasing details Thursday.
"I believe all of these initiatives fall directly in line with what KDE will recommend," Pollio said. "I've had conversations with the Kentucky Department of Education about our plan, so I would surprised if anything in the audit results didn't fit with these plans that we have, but in my mind the most important thing I can do is lead for the future."
The plan includes launching the JCPS Backpack of Success Skills initiative, revamping the district’s Vision 2020 strategic plan, restructuring central office, reimagining the district’s alternative schools, and implementing a facilities plan focused on students and schools.
Here's a look at the details of each plan:
Improving transition readiness and developing the "Backpack of Success Skills"
Designed to help all students develop core skills like literacy and numeracy as well as key cognitive, social and self-management skills by providing a virtual backpack full of universal skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication, this has been an initiative Pollio emphasized during his push to become the district's next superintendent.
It will be implemented during the 2018-19 school year, and students will fill their virtual backpacks with examples of their work and be asked to defend their achievements.
Pollio said the district has a team working to develop that initiative ahead of the next school year. Students would be able to include special projects in their backpacks and be asked to demonstrate how those projects helped them grow before an audience, and Pollio said that piece of the five-point plan would help students transition during key points of their time at JCPS, such as moving from middle school to high school.
"Each school might take a little different approach to it, but we want authentic audiences," he said. "We want community members. We want business members. Yes we want teachers, administrators and students, but we want people from our community coming in and hearing from our students, our students standing in front and making real-life presentations about the work that they're doing."
David Arronte, an 8th grader at Olmsted, was working on an arcade cabinet during Pollio's visit to his mechanical engineering class. Once the cabinet is built, a technology class will develop a video game for the machine while an art class will decorate the cabinet.
Others in the class were busy working on a car engine and building model cars to race.
Olmsted Principal Ryan Rodosky said providing more hands-on learning opportunities, like those offered through the Academies of Louisville program, will help get students engaged in school and develop their interest in different fields of study.
"it is vital, especially at this age, 11 to 14 years old," Rodosky said. "These boys, not just Louisville but throughout the country, lose interest in education because it's boring, so we have to find a way to make it fun, to make it something that they can actually do, and you see the perfect example in here. You see students collaborating. You see students being able to talk, build, create."
Revamping Vision 2020
Pollio said with the midway point of Vision 2020 nearing, he wants to reexamine the district's goals that it hopes to accomplish by Dec. 31, 2020, and develop new strategies to attain them.
"We want a clear outline and plan of what we're going to do to be successful," Pollio said.
Restructuring central office
The district will be implementing recommendations from a review by the Council of the Great City Schools to provide more balance to the district’s central office and effectively and efficiently deliver resources to students.
The Jefferson County Board of Education approved the first phase of that strategy during its meeting Tuesday, with additional changes set for the board's consideration in April and possibly May.
"We want to be an efficient and professional organization that is a model for other school districts," Pollio said.
Reimagining alternative schools
During Thursday's announcement, Pollio says he believes a new alternative school programs model will establish separate programs and facilities for middle and high school students.
A task force created to reshape the alternative school programs will convene later this spring, with changes expected by the 2019-20 school year, he said.
Developing a Vision 2020-like facilities plan
Initiative includes establishing a centralized location for the ESL Newcomer Academy and creating early childhood education centers. A consolidated ESL Newcomer Academy will launch at the current Phoenix School of Discovery building, and the Phoenix School of Discovery will move to the Jaeger Education Center on Wood Drive later this year under a proposal passed by the school board Tuesday.
The changes are in addition to those approved at the Feb. 27 school board meeting, which combined the district’s two Teenage Parent Programs and created an early childhood education center and a temporary home for the new W.E.B. DuBois Academy.
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