JCPS working on two projects before summer ends

JCPS working on two projects before summer ends
Published: Jul. 7, 2016 at 5:13 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2016 at 10:25 PM EDT
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Preparations continue for the opening of Norton Commons Elementary School in eastern Jefferson...
Preparations continue for the opening of Norton Commons Elementary School in eastern Jefferson County. (Source: Sharon Yoo/WAVE 3 News)
(Source: Sharon Yoo/WAVE 3 News)
(Source: Sharon Yoo/WAVE 3 News)

JEFFERSON COUNTY, KY (WAVE) – All across WAVE Country, summer vacation is in full swing. The slow time for students, however, means a lot of work for many public schools as they get new projects ready for classes, which begin early next month.

Jefferson County Public Schools showed off two of their initiatives Thursday in two different parts of the county, including one that is a long-awaited project near Prospect.

Come August, JCPS will be making some changes to the district. Foremost among those is the opening of Norton Commons Elementary School in eastern Jefferson County.

"Welcome to Norton Commons Elementary School!" Principal Allyson Vitato said Thursday.

Vitato is all smiles at the thought of her new school being filled with students.

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"We're ready!" she exclaimed. "I've got my parent-work teams together and everyone has been very supportive, so we are ready to go."

A 21st century school, Norton Commons Elementary has everything from standing desks to solar panels. It's got everything to make it a technologically-advanced school.

"Basically every school district in America finds themselves in the case of trying to catch up with technology that is moving at a more rapid pace every day," said Dr. Michael Raisor, the Chief Operations Officer of JCPS. "We are trying to get ahead of that curve every chance we get."

More importantly, the school is working to become greener. It has put in LED lightbulbs that don't die out as fast and opted for shiny, polished concrete floors instead of tiled ones that require more maintenance.

"It's more cost efficient to put down, (and) it never has to be replaced and essentially lasts forever," Raisor said.

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All this is in the hopes of creating a solid learning environment for the Norton Commons Knights. The students have voted to call themselves the Knights, according to the principal.

"Of course, knights are chivalrous and we will have a big focus on social, emotional learning so students will have an idea of what it means to be chivalrous and kind," Vitato said.

The state-of-the-art facility will be a new home-away-from-home to around 500 students in the new school year.

In addition to the Norton Commons project, JCPS is working on another one — a combining effort at Stuart Middle School.

Stuart Middle, now officially known as Stuart Academy, will be combined with the Robert Frost Sixth-Grade Academy at its Valley Station road campus. The building, that is separated into two wings, will dedicate its left wing to Frost Academy and its right wing to Stuart.

WATCH: Sharon Yoo's report

Stuart will have seventh and eighth grade students. Dr. Mike Raisor says there are several reasons behind combining the two student bodies.

Both Frost Academy and Stuart Middle were operating below capacity, according to Raisor. Frost was at 25 percent and Stuart was at 50 percent — the optimal percentage of operation is at 75 percent.

Instead of having two schools perform below optimal capacity, JCPS decided to combine the two — have one building operating at optimal levels and divest the other building to save costs.

The former Frost building will be sold in the future, according to Raisor.

Another reason behind the combination was to make transition smoother for students attending Frost Sixth-Grade Academy. By separating the sixth grade students from the other middle school students, they will have a chance to acclimate to the middle school environment. Once they have acclimated, all they have to do is travel across the hall to a different wing to start the seventh grade. This way, Raisor says, the students don't have to worry about adjusting to a whole new location.

As of now, the building is undergoing minor renovations to accommodate two different academies. Both Frost and Stuart combined are expecting to have around 1,200 students during the beginning of the school year.

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