LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Election Day is 11 days away, and some of the most contested races in Jefferson County are four seats on the Jefferson County Public Schools board, including District One.
Four candidates will challenge one another for the district representing the west end and downtown Louisville: Diane Porter, the incumbent, Charlie Bell, Ahamara Brewster and Carol Travis-Clark.
Diane Porter has served on the board since 2010. Her professional career included working as a teacher, guidance counselor, assistant principal, principal and administrator. When asked why she's seeking reelection, Porter said she wants to continue working on projects she has approved, especially the student assignment plan.
Porter said her No.1 priority if reelected is to make sure parents understand the district's new student assignment plan, and evaluate the plan as it moves forward.
The student assignment plan will take effect beginning the 2022-23 school year. Porter was part of the board's unanimous vote to approve the new plan in June. When it comes to this plan, Porter said "I want to make sure that it has everything that it needs, staffing wise, facility wise, and people understand what needs to be done in order for it to be successful."
As for school safety, Porter said the district's new safety plan, which she voted to approve in January and took effect this school year, is too new to comment on.
"It's very hard to comment on the total plan at this point," she said. "Because we have just started the plan, and you have to have some time to start and to grow in order to get to the success that you want."
Charlie Bell described herself as a JCPS parent and the former principal of a charter school in Ohio. When asked why she's running for school board, Bell said she has had "horrific experiences" with JCPS, citing pulling her son out of kindergarten and then re-enrolling her kids a year later, and she would like to "do some things had not been done in the city of Louisville before."
Bell said the No.1 issue she would like to address is giving families a choice of where the child attends school.
When it comes to the student assignment plan, she said it gives parents some choice, and can reunite communities.
"But for it to work, the schools have to be equal, it has to have equal resources from the west, east, south, all the schools need to be equal in order for that to work," said Bell. "So not only can we set the example in District One, but it can be piloted to create those types of changes in all neighborhoods."
Addressing school safety, Bell said she is against armed officers, and would prefer to not use the word "officer" in security titles. However, she wants to see security in schools.
"It has to be somebody that's approachable," she said. "Someone that the kids will get along with, somebody looks more as a protector than an actual officer for the kids."
Ahamara Brewster described herself as a mother, DuPont Manual High School graduate and Spalding University graduate. Brewster said she decided to run because she is concerned for students' mental health and she would like to address issues others "like to brush under the rug."
Brewster said her top priority is to address the "downfalls" of standardized testing, and propose using Clifton Strengths, to point out student's strengths and abilities.
Brewster said she supports the student assignment plan 100%. She said to ensure it works, community organizations need to be involved.
"I think it'll bring the unity back into community," said Brewster. "I would like to really see really strong community partnerships because we do have a lot of them in west Louisville, that I want to see come apart and build with JCPS as far as, you know, helping students academically and with discipline."
Brewster said she favors the current district safety plan, but would like to expand it to include community partnerships to help address safety.
"I know what our community can do for these children, it's just that they always get ignored," Brewster said.
Carol Travis-Clark has been a master barber for more than three decades, the mother of three JCPS graduates, a board member for a local affordable housing trust fund, and a financial person on the California Leadership Council. When asked why she's running for the JCPS school board, Travis-Clark said she can be an asset to the first district.
Travis-Clark said, if elected, she would like to improve the value of teachers, focusing on what they need mentally, physically and financially.
In regards to the new student assignment plan, Travis-Clark said she is on the fence about it.
"We have been told when busing came along, we would get better books, better education. Now they're getting ready to eradicate it. Are we really going to get better education and better books? I don't know," she said.
Travis-Clark is against armed school resource officers and thinks there are other methods to promote safety.
"I think we should install some type of metal detectors like they have in the courts, and just have some security that's not carrying a gun or badge," she said.
WDRB will preview each of the JCPS school board candidate district races over the next week-and-a-half. WDRB spoke with the 13 candidates about staff shortages, test scores, the new school choice plan, and other important issues.
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