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‘It’s time for change’: Pollio unveils monumental School Choice plan

The plan that would eventually give every student, particularly those living in west Louisville, a choice about where to go to school.
Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 3:37 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Better schools that are closer to home and better access to magnet schools are among promises Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio is making to families.

Pollio proposed an extensive plan that would eventually give every student, particularly those living in west Louisville, a choice about where to go to school, the district’s first review of school assignments in nearly four decades.

On Tuesday morning, Pollio unveiled the School Choice plan, saying, “It’s been 40 years since student assignment has been truly evaluated and changed in this district. First and foremost, there is nothing in a school district anywhere, any system, that should go 40 years without significant analysis and change.”

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In addition to providing programs and resources to every student, Pollio said his proposal would make it easier for parents to find a school and ensure that magnet schools and programs represent the district’s diversity. Students in the “Choice Zone” would be able to choose between attending a school close to home or a school that is further away.

Pollio described how the current system led to students attending schools where they feel they don’t belong, as evidenced by chronic absenteeism and a stark achievement gap between Black and white students.

“For the past 40 years, as I have said many times, and I have talked a lot about the problems of student assignment,” Pollio said, “the onus of diversity has been placed on the shoulders of students of west Louisville.”

Pollio said the School Choice proposal would align school feeder patterns so students can stay with their peers all the way through to graduation if they want to, expand access to magnet schools, improve parent involvement and increase the number of after-school activities for students in west Louisville.

He discussed creating better education choices closer to home for west Louisville families and minimizing social disruptions when students are bused to other neighborhoods.

“Many of them are going far away from home and that’s not their family’s choice,” Pollio said. “Many of them are attending a middle school on one side of town, and then they have to — they’re forced to attend a high school on the other side of town. That is not good for student belonging.”

Pollio said improving that sense of belonging would improve a sense of belonging and lead to better student achievement.

“If a family in Middletown has a choice to attend a school close to home, so should a family in west Louisville in the Russell neighborhood,” he said. “But as we know, we have to provide great options and resources for the schools. And that’s what our plan is working on.”

For the upcoming school year 2023-2024, the changes would affect incoming kindergarten, sixth-, and ninth-graders, and other students will be able to remain in their current schools if they choose to do so.

The proposal is being discussed publicly on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Norton Healthcare Sports & Learning Center on West Muhammad Ali Boulevard. Another public discussion will be held on March 29 at 6 p.m. at The Academy @ Shawnee on Herman Street.

Pollio said the new student assignment plan is hundreds of pages in length and will be released to the public in a week.

To read the complete School Choice proposal, click here. To see what qualifies as the “Choice Zone,” click here.

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