Gilmore Lane Elementary teachers, parents express concerns over JCPS facilities plan

JCPS fields parents' concerns about facilities plan that would impact 11 schools

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Jefferson County Public School leaders said they are planning to build three new schools, which would impact 11 schools.

JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio and several JCPS administrators met with parents and teachers of Gilmore Lane Elementary on Wednesday night to hear their concerns over the proposed plan.

“We’re doing this at all 11 schools that are impacted by our facilities plan," Dr. Pollio said. "So some are harder than others when you’re talking about these conversations. There was one tonight at Gilmore Lane. [It] was a challenging one because of the change that would be coming to the school community.”

Pollio said the plan is not set in stone, but the vision is to build three new elementary schools, a new middle school and to renovate the Academy at Shawnee.

The new elementary schools would be built near South Dixie Highway, West Broadway, and in the Newburg community. Each school would combine two current elementary schools in those areas that are either under-enrolled or approaching end-of-life use.

Gilmore Lane would be one of the campuses affected, which has left parents and teachers with a lot of questions.

Alli Embrey attended Gilmore Lane Elementary School when she was a kid and now her daughter attends the school. She said the school is like a family to her.

"We're all tight knit. We all know each other," Embrey said. "I come in the door the kids yell for me, I come to lunch they all swarm me wanting to sit with me. That's not going to happen anywhere else."

Embrey said she likes the idea of a new campus, but feels like it's happening too fast.

"I just don't understand why we can't stay here until that new school is built," Embrey said.

She said her daughter knows about the proposed plan and has been asking what school she'll be going to next year.

“I’m telling her I don’t know because I can’t pick as of right now,” Embrey said. “It’s very very upsetting to watch my childhood and now my child’s childhood just kind of go away.”

JCPS administrators spoke to parents at tables and wrote down their concerns about the potential changes. Concerns ranged from what happens to the surrounding neighborhood, enrollment and what it means for teachers at Gilmore Lane.

JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio, along with other school officials, addressed concerns with parents.
JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio, along with other school officials, addressed concerns with parents. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

“There will be absolutely no job losses as a result of this,” Dr. Pollio told WAVE 3 News. “So every single staff here at Gilmore Lane if this were to move forward would have a position at a new school.”

Pollio emphasized these new schools are part of the vision the district has.

"I believe that we have not invested as a district in our new schools and facilities, and that’s what we’re planning on doing. We want to build three brand new schools that are the most innovative schools anywhere in the state," Pollio said.

Michelle Stevens has been a teacher at Gilmore Lane for 24 years.

“It makes me very sad,” Stevens said. “At first it didn’t hit me, until I started looking at the school and looking at kids and thinking about the past.”

She likes the idea of a new school, but wants to make sure the students are taken care of during the transition if the plan passes.

“I wish they would give us another year, so we could all go together," Stevens said. "And so our kids feel valued just as much as the other school.”

In August 2018, the school unveiled a new playground and memorial in honor of Aariden and Avery Hooper, who were murdered in 2017 by their mother, before she killed herself. Parents wanted to ensure the playground and memorial aren’t forgotten by district officials. Pollio said he agrees.

“We want to make sure that we honor that -- both the playground in the memorial," he said. “And we believe that both would go to the new school.”

Pollio said they will be meeting with parents and staff members during the month of January at schools across Jefferson County. He said the earliest it would go to a vote in front of the board would be February or March.

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