LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A group that formed in opposition to the recommended takeover of Jefferson County Public Schools released an 11-point plan Monday that it says will improve district operations and student achievement.

The 11-point plan unveiled by Our JCPS, a coalition of district stakeholders, calls for smaller class sizes, recess and service time for students, a living wage of at least $15 per hour for all JCPS staff, implementing restorative practices and trauma-informed care throughout the school system, among other items.

The plan comes the same day that the Jefferson County Board of Education's appeal of interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis’s recommendation to place the district under state management was set to begin.

That hearing was canceled by the Kentucky Board of Education after the school board and Lewis reached a settlement that would keep the school board and JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio in charge of district operations and give the Kentucky Department of Education greater oversight of key deficiencies like restraint and seclusion and early childhood education.

The two sides are working to hammer out a final corrective action plan by the Sept. 20 deadline, and Our JCPS members say they hope their 11-point plan will help guide negotiations.

Brent McKim, president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association, said the group will share its proposal with JCPS and the state.

“The corrective action plan is very specific about dealing with 57 or 58 particular findings,” he said during a news conference outside the JCPS District Operations Center. “This plan is comprehensive and deals with every aspect of moving forward positively for students, so we hope it informs the corrective action plan, but it goes beyond and goes broader.”

The 11 points in the plan are:

  • Educating the whole student
  • Providing deeper learning opportunities rather than emphasizing preparation for year-end testing
  • Reducing class sizes
  • Implementing restorative practices and trauma-informed care to better resolve school conflicts
  • At least 30 minutes of recess for elementary school students and more time for middle and high school students to participate in clubs or service projects.
  • Improving JCPS facilities
  • Providing community services at schools, such as health care, child care and recreation
  • Retaining an elected school board
  • Providing an inclusive and equitable learning environment
  • Giving all JCPS staff a living wage, which Sue Foster, president of AFSCME Local 4011, said equals at least $15 per hour
  • Increasing school funding

The plan can be read here:

Autumn Neagle, president of the 15th District PTA, said members of Our JCPS got feedback on the 11-point plan from their respective groups and community members before finalizing it.

Our JCPS doesn’t have a timeline for when it would like to see its proposal implemented, she said.

“Every child has to hit those goals,” Neagle said. “We have to make it better for them, and I don’t think you can stop. I don’t think you can say, ‘OK, we made this goal. We can stop. We’ve done it. Pat yourselves on the back,’ because there isn’t that end goal.

“The promise we make to our children today will make our future brighter, so we have to do that now.”

Also unclear is how much the plan will cost, but McKim said it would be “an investment that will pay off.”

“If you compare what it costs to educate a child to what it costs to incarcerate an adult, it’s much better to invest in educating so that we have productive citizens rather than incarcerating later,” he said.

With the plan, Our JCPS is continuing its advocacy work after the district avoided state management through the Aug. 29 settlement.

The group says it will continue to monitor the situation as JCPS moves to correct deficiencies outlined in the state’s 14-month audit of the district.

“We will hold them accountable,” Foster said. “We’ll keep our eyes on what’s happening here in our district. We’ll keep our ears in tune with what’s happening in Frankfort, and we will be watching every step and making sure we are there to support whatever it needs, whatever our community needs and our children need.”

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

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