JCPS School Choice Plan to give district students options for first time in decades
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - When the 2023-2024 school year begins in August, thousands of Jefferson County Public Schools students will have a chance to choose which school they attend for the first time in decades.
The Jefferson County Board of Education provided an update Tuesday night to the district’s School Choice Plan, providing information on the number of families who’ve applied and which schools will see the most drastic changes in attendance.
Amanda Averette-Bush has been an instrumental part of developing the plan.
Wednesday afternoon, she sat down with WAVE News to provide context on its implementation.
“I will tell you, it’s a little surreal,” Averette-Bush said. “We were at a point to where we needed a definite overhaul of our plan to really be able to continue to move the work forward. We had done as much as we could do under our current pan, and it was time for a change.”
In short, the School Choice Plan allows students who live within the designated School Choice Zone, predominantly in West Louisville, to choose whether to attend a school closer to their home address or be bused to their designated school across the county.
School choice is currently only available for families in the choice zone with students who are incoming kindergarteners, sixth graders or ninth graders.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, members of the administration said 91% of eligible families have filled out their applications.
As it stands, 311 of 374 (83%) registered kindergarten families chose to attend a school in their home zone.
Five hundred fifty-one of 715 (77%) registered middle school families chose to attend a school in their home zone.
At the high school level, only 231 of 690 (33%) registered families chose to attend a home-zone school.
“It’s important for families to have choice,” Averette-Bush said. “Families know what’s best for their child. We have to make sure we get the information out to families so they can make that choice so being a part of this work will change our community.”
For Averette-Bush, the new school choice plan is personal.
She has been working on school choice for JCPS since 2015.
She grew up in the designated choice zone, but was never given an opportunity to attend a school closer to her home. Neither were her children.
Now she’s hoping the new plan can help change things for the better for her grandchildren and other families in the district.
“It lets us know that families in the choice zone, that’s predominantly west Louisville, want that option and we as a district should be able to provide that to them, and follow that up with the resources they need to be successful,” Averette-Bush said. “”You always go through life, and you think about what your purpose is. And this work, if it’s not...if I haven’t fulfilled my purpose, I feel pretty darn close.”
A JCPS spokesperson said Shawnee Middle, Shawnee High, Western High School and Valley High School are the schools that will impacted the most.
Shawnee is expecting the largest student increase, and if attendance predictions hold, would have the largest sixth grade class in school history.
Western will become a magnet school, and will not have a ninth grade class in 2023-2024. Western is expecting the largest student decrease.
Some of those students are expected to shift to Valley High School.
Averette-Bush said the district is in the process of recruiting teachers and resources to fill the expected vacancies.
Parents currently living inside the choice zone who have not registered their children for school must do so ASAP. To do so, call (502) 485-6250.
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