LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The JCPS School Board unanimously approved changes to the Student Assignment Plan at its Monday, January 9 meeting. The changes mean that roughly 2,000 students may be eligible to attend a school that's closer to their home; something that's long been cited as an issue by critics of the student assignment plan.
The changes take effect for the 2012-2013 school year. Under the plan approved Monday night, the student assignment plan will also include kindergarten students.
By changing the way it defines diversity, the board says it is able to make these changes. Diversity will now be defined using census data, which shows Jefferson County grew nearly 7% or 50,000 people. Data also shows strong growth in the south and east ends of metro Louisville.
In addition to that data, diversity will also be defined by three categories: area income, educational level of neighborhood residents, and the makeup of a neighborhood.
There will also be more options for how many schools a parent can apply for their student to attend. Currently, parents can list four schools, but starting with the 2012-2013 registration process, parents will be able to list six schools they would prefer their child to attend.
"Stability is number one for us. Stability for families, day care centers, shorter bus rides, families being able to understand what schools they are going to attend," said Jack Jacobs, JCPS Student Assignment Plan Director.
The district will remain divided up among six clusters, which was an issue of contention with some school board members. Members like Larry Hujo believe even more students may be able to attend a school closer to their home if the board would approve a dozen clusters instead of the current six.
The number of clusters wasn't on the table to be voted on, but could be later this spring.
On Monday night, the school board also approved improvement methods for four schools the state of Kentucky determined to be failing in student achievement.
The Transformation Model was approved for:
- Myers Middle
- Olmstead Academy North
- Stuart Middle
- Westport Middle
The Transformation Model includes replacing the principal at each school, and beefing up things like teacher training and increasing learning time in the classroom.
A study regarding how to improve Thomas Jefferson Middle will be conducted January 22-27.
There was a moment of contention regarding the vote for Stuart Middle School: Hujo said he was informed of possible "coercion" of how the staff at the school determined which improvement method it felt would be best.
Hujo claims there may have been more support for the Restaffing Option, which would have included changing half of the teaching staff, but said he was told that the state's Open Door Meeting Law may have been violated when it comes to how the votes were calculated.
The board, however, pressed on and voted in 5-2 in favor of the Transformation Model, but did say that Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens will launch an investigation.
More information on the updated Student Assignment Plan is expected at the annual Showcase of Schools, which will be held Saturday, January 28.