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JCPS: Roosevelt-Perry, Wheatley schools merging; Grace James moving campuses

Board of Education also approves new virtual school
Published: May. 12, 2021 at 12:00 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Extensive changes are coming to three schools within Kentucky’s largest public school district.

The Jefferson County Public Schools Board of Education unanimously voted on the official merger of Roosevelt-Perry Elementary and Wheatley Elementary and the move to a new building on Tuesday night.

Located next to the YMCA at 18th and West Broadway, construction on the new school is scheduled to be done by the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

Furthermore, Grace James Academy will move to Roosevelt-Perry Elementary School at West Broadway and 16th, which is expected to happen before the 2021-2022 school year starts. The school shares space right now with the DuValle Education Center.

Roosevelt has 600 students currently, with an enrollment of around 200. Grace James has 150 and is expecting to reach 300 next year.

The transitions will benefit hundreds of Jefferson County Public Schools students, said Diane Porter, the chair of the Jefferson County Board of Education.

“For the first time in two decades we are building a state-of-the-art, innovative school in West Louisville,” Porter said in a statement, “giving students from Wheatley and Roosevelt-Perry a creative space to learn while Grace James Academy of Excellence will have room to welcome more students to their acclaimed program. I fully support this move because it will be what’s best for students.”

The Board of Education also approved a new plan to form a new virtual-only school for grades 6-12. Called Pathfinder School of Innovation, it is a rebranding of Jefferson County High School.

“We’ve had a lot of interest in specifically middle and high moving forward with virtual opportunities, especially next year,” JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said.

According to the district, at Pathfinder School of Innovation, there will be both asynchronous and synchronous learning for students and weekly individualized coaching sessions to monitor student’s progress. There will be support available to teach organizational, time management, and digital citizenship skills. AP courses, electives, and career and technical education pathways will also be offered.

Ballard High School teacher and coach LaKunta Farmer told WAVE 3 News he walked alongside his students over the past year from in-person learning to virtual learning to hybrid learning.

“It’s been challenging,” he told WAVE 3 News. “It’s been kind of rewarding here and there but it’s been challenging more than anything.”

Farmer, who is back to teaching in person, said while many of his students are happy to be back in person even just a few days a week, some are enjoying learning virtually.

“I still teach the virtual kids, too,” he said. “So a lot of them are like I’m just going to stay virtual next year because I feel safer, I can work, I can move, I can do different things. I don’t have to worry about getting to school at 7:40 in the morning.”

Farmer believes Pathfinder School of Innovation is a smart idea that will benefit students across the district.

“I think the option to do virtual is very smart because you never know what’s going on with families,” he explained. “You never know who actually got vaccinated, who didn’t. So you know it’s one of those things where everybody deserves a choice on how they work this pandemic and how they come out of it. So, I think it’s a good thing.”

JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said students who currently attend Jefferson County High School and e-school will automatically continue with the program. Students in grades 6-12 who would like to enroll in virtual-only school next year will have to fill out a transfer form for the fall 2021 semester.

If students decide virtual learning isn’t the best fit for them, Pollio said they would be able to transfer back to their “resides” school.

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