JCPS tables magnet school lottery discussion

JCPS tables magnet school lottery discussion

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Jefferson County Board of Education held a work session to discuss possible changes to the magnet program in Jefferson County Monday, but the board expressed their disappointment with options presented and tabled the discussion.

A steering committee made up of Jefferson County Public School faculty was asked to work on implementing changes suggested by a January 2014 Magnet Review.

Based on recommendations, JCPS were asked to adopt a centralized application process and implemented a lottery system. The current application process for JCPS magnet schools vary between programs. Students can be asked to complete an essay, interview or even provide work samples.

It's an extensive process that 16-year-old DuPont Manual Student Jennifer Ding welcomes.

"What makes Manual, Manual and so competitive is the kind of drive that individual students have. Because so many individual students are concentrated, we all feel we need to be better there is always something to look up to," said Ding.

Ding said her and other students are familiar with talk of a lottery application process and they strongly disagree with what it could mean for their school's dynamic.

"Its inherently flawed," said Ding. "My suggestion to the board would be to take the philosophy at Manual and transfer it to other schools. Present other schools with just as many academically appealing opportunities to make them more attractive to competitive students."

The steering committee gathered input from several magnet school principals who placed value on several criteria they look for in magnet students. Based on this, the steering committee offered several suggestions. They advised elementary schools use a random draw and middle and high school magnet schools use categories of GPA, test scores, attendance and behavior to rank students who would qualify for the lottery based on their scores in these criteria.

The suggestions were met with disappointment from the board who explained the three options presented did not have any input from stakeholders in JCPS magnet schools, like parents or students.

The JCPS board asked that the steering committee not bring the suggestions back for a vote in June.

"We will not bring this back for a vote in June. Clearly we aren't ready for that and we will get a steering committee that includes community members," said JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens.

The news was well-received by many parents including Manual parent Shannon Evans.

"I was a little shocked. I was shocked in a good way. I'm proud of them," said Evans, "when you take a competitive school and you change it to a lottery process, nobody is going to win. Nobody is going to win. Life isn't a lottery. It's a competition."

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