LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Jefferson County Public Schools leaders are calling on the public to help review nearly 60 of the district's more than 150 magnet programs and schools.
Inside Central High School Thursday, more than a dozen members of the public turned out to just that. From parents to business leaders, the community members opened up about their desires and concerns.
"There are white magnet schools and there are African American magnet schools," said Stephen Bush, a Louisville businessman.
The group of adults had been invited and instructed by JCPS staff to size up the district's magnet programs openly and honestly.
"We have the Magnet Schools of America director here," said Kathy McGinnis, JCPS Magnet Programs Director. "He is actually in charge of the conferences that are going on with parents."
"We've been really asked to answer the essential questions," began Scott Thomas, executive director of Magnet Schools of America. "Are the magnet schools promoting achievement, are they promoting diversity, and are they magnetic?"
"We want parents to tell us in Jefferson County what's going good, what they'd like to see differently, and ways that they think we can improve," said McGinnis.
A lack of magnet program openings and diversity among students ranked among top concerns.
"There's 700 applicants for 200 spots," said Betsy Johnson, parent of a JCPS student. "That means that there's a demand for the program. Our children need that program."
"If you look at the racial breakdown of Manual versus the racial breakdown of Central," said Bush, a former Central High School instructor, "it's almost complete opposites."
"The district is very concerned about promoting diversity, so that's a lesson for us," said McGinnis. "We need to do a better job with making sure we get the diversity out there so the parents will know through word of mouth - social media was brought up several times - on how we can get parents throughout the district in every geographic area to know about magnet programs, and to apply for them."
Throughout the hour-long session, scribes took down specific notes. That information will then be compiled and sent to Washington.
"We'll be compiling that and making a report and recommendation to the superintendent and the school board," said Thomas.
JCPS staff maintained recommendations by Magnet Schools of America would best be generated by the help of the public.
A final Magnet Review Focus Group will be held Thursday, February 6 at Gheens Academy from 5 to 6 p.m. and from 7 to 8 p.m.
The public can submit their input through an online survey available by clicking here, through February 14.