GLI President and CEO Remarks on JCPS School Ratings Tuesday, Oct 1 2019 

“GLI supports the transformative work happening in Jefferson County Public Schools and is encouraged to see positive trends in key growth areas such as student graduation and transition readiness. The new state ratings system gives our community greater transparency on the performance of a school and provides clearer data about...

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JCPS Board Approves Girls Of Color STEAM Academy Wednesday, Aug 28 2019 

During a packed meeting Tuesday night, the Jefferson County Public School Board approved a school for girls of color, and moved forward with plans to start its own security force.

Board members voted unanimously to approve the Females of Color STEAM Academy, after which they received a round of applause from attendees. The academy will teach middle school girls of color science, technology, engineering, art and math. Officials estimate it will cost $5.2 million for the first three years.

Before the vote, Louisville Urban League CEO Sadiqa Reynolds said girls of color need a successful school like the W.E.B. Dubois Academy for boys.

“We are failing these girls,” Reynolds said. “It is time for us to have an opportunity to do for ourselves what it seems that the system has not been able to successfully do.”

Attendees packed the JCPS meeting, standing and applauding when the STEAM Academy was approvedKyeland Jackson | wfpl.org

Attendees packed the JCPS meeting, standing and applauding when the STEAM Academy was approved

Girls of all races can apply, but like Louisville’s W.E.B. DuBois Academy for boys, the all-girls school will likely offer a multicultural and Afrocentric curriculum.

Officials want to hire a school president by September and to start classes next August. The school will open to sixth-grade students, with plans to add seventh and eighth grade classes in subsequent years.

Tuesday’s meeting was also a historic occasion as Joseph Marshall was sworn in to represent District 4 on the JCPS board. With Marshall’s swearing in, Board Chair Diane Porter said this marked the first time that three African Americans (Porter, Marshall and Corrie Shull) sat on the board.

New JCPS District 4 Board Member Joseph Marshall swearing in to the boardKyeland Jackson | wfpl.org

New JCPS District 4 Board Member Joseph Marshall swearing in to the board

After swearing in Marshall and approving the STEAM academy, board members discussed updates on its proposed security force.

JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio said they plan to hire a project manager to lead security in September. That person would be in charge of hiring and training SROs for all of JCPS.

But Porter said the board needs more information about the plan and how it might affect people.

“I’m not sure what the plan is,” Porter said. “What are we doing for our elementary, middle and high school[s]? How are we taking care of safety issues without either of the ones that I’ve just described, because it is happening in this district.”

Pollio said the district has $1.1 million to use toward school resource officers this year. He said he hopes to have 12 officers working in JCPS schools by February.

A law passed by the state legislature this year requires that every school have a safety officer by July 2022, though lawmakers did not approve any funding. 

Here’s How To Apply For The JCPS School Board’s Vacant Seat Thursday, Jul 18 2019 

The Jefferson County Board of Education is now taking applications to fill a vacant seat representing southwest Louisville.

The Board accepted Benjamin Gies’s resignation and declared a vacancy Tuesday night. That started a ticking clock to fill the seat by mid-September.

Under a new law that went into effect just days before Gies announced his resignation, the school board will have the power to select the candidate to fill the vacant seat, an authority previously held by the Kentucky Commissioner of Education.

Steps Candidates Must Take

The Board will accept applications for the next two weeks, until 4:30 p.m. on July 31. To be eligible to apply, candidates must:

  • be at least 24 years old
  • be registered to vote in the school board’s District 4 in southwest Louisville
  • be a three-year citizen of Kentucky

At the school board’s Tuesday night meeting, Board member Chris Brady pointed out that for this particular position, candidates will have a few more hoops to jump through than they may realize.

As you might expect, eligible candidates who wish to apply must submit an application and letter of intent to the school board and confirm their eligibility.

Under a 2018 law, candidates will also have to supply a copy of their high school transcripts to show they completed the 12th grade or high school equivalency, such as a GED.

The board will review applications and hold interviews during closed sessions, then make a final vote on their appointment in an open meeting. The Board has not yet scheduled that vote, but it must occur by September 14.

Because of the timing of the resignation, whoever the board appoints will also have to run for election this November — to bring the decision to voters at the next possible opportunity. Any candidates wishing to apply for the position should also file for that election at the Jefferson County Elections Center by August 13.

That also means anyone seeking the seat will have an opportunity to compete in the fall election, regardless of whether he or she wins the Board’s appointment. The winner of that election will also have to run for reelection in 2020, due to the seat’s regularly scheduled term. At that point, the candidate who is voted in will serve a four-year term.

“I think that’s a lot to ask of folks — it’s pretty complex,” Brady said.

Board Seat Requires Significant Commitment

Board chair Diane Porter said a strong candidate will be caring and compassionate and “a strong worker for children,” as well as someone who is willing to give the time the position requires.

“I think the responsibility is larger than what people see by attending school board meetings,” Porter said. “It’s not an hour a week. It is signing up for a job.”

Board members represent schools within their district, and are expected to be responsive to their constituents and have a presence at community events in their schools. Other responsibilities include attending and preparing for closed and open school board meetings (here’s a schedule) and interacting with the media.

“This job is really unique in that you can throw as much time at it as you possibly could, and it will just smile at you and ask for more,” Brady said.

Brady said he would like to see applicants who have an active interest in education, who want to serve their community, “someone who keeps an open mind and looks at the complexities of what’s going on in our society.”

JCPS Developing Plans To Grow Its Minority Workforce Wednesday, Jul 17 2019 

Jefferson County Public School officials are working on plans to recruit and retain more minority employees at all levels, with the ultimate goal for the JCPS workforce to better reflect the diversity of its student body.

The Board held a work session Tuesday night to talk about the district’s efforts to recruit and retain more minority employees as teachers, vendors, skilled trades workers and administrators.

Teachers

Currently, the JCPS student body is made up of about 56 percent students of color, while about 16 percent of teachers are people of color. The district has made an effort to hire more minority teachers and principals in recent years, so that about 22 percent of newly hired teachers are people of color.

“In the nine years that I have been on the board, I continue to hear from families whose children never see a minority teacher, and in some cases nor a minority administrator,” said Board chair Diane Porter.

“And I think Dr. Pollio has been very aggressive with changing that, but clearly, clearly, we must do better.”

Earlier this month, JCPS announced a new partnership with Simmons College to attract minority teachers through a Transition to Teaching program offered at Louisville’s historically black college.

Tuesday, the Board discussed plans for a year-long teacher residency program that would help recruit more minority teachers through a district-led alternative certification program. The program would pair those residents with experienced teacher mentors, to give the beginning teachers more support and hopefully improve minority teacher retention. The program would be selective, and would place residents in high-need schools.

A JCPS spokeswoman said the district hopes to start the residency program some time during the 2019-2020 school year, and while it would not be exclusively for minority candidates, one goal of the program would be to diversify the teacher workforce.

Vendors and Contractors

JCPS has a goal to increase its spending at minority-owned and women-owned businesses from a current rate of 3 percent of all district spending to 10 percent going to women-owned shops and 15 percent to minority-owned businesses.

With plans to spend more than $170 million to renovate and construct new buildings under the facility plan the Board passed earlier this year, JCPS will have ample opportunity to seek out minority-owned contractors. Among its strategies to increase outreach to minority-owned vendors, the district will require at least three quotes on purchases of less than $20,000 with an effort for at least one to be from a minority-owned business.

Skilled Tradespeople

JCPS Chief Operations Officer Michael Raisor presented a proposal to create an apprentice-style program to recruit minority trade workers for entry-level positions. The TRADES program would train those workers in more advanced skills with the goal of retaining and promoting them within the school district. Raisor said the district struggles to hire minority tradespeople in mid-level and advanced positions because not enough candidates apply, and because the school district has difficulty competing with the private sector.

“This give us the opportunity to grow the candidates,” Raisor said.

Raisor said he thinks the program could serve as a national model for other school districts, and would mirror programs offered by employers in the private sector.  Board chair Diane Porter noted the program could seek to draw new employees from among the recent high school graduates of the district’s vocational academies.

Administrators

So far, JCPS has made the greatest progress in hiring minority principals and administrators. Fifty-six percent of recently hired principals and 37 percent of newly hired administrators are people of color.

“What we’ve had to do is make conscious efforts to develop our minority leaders,” said Superintendent Marty Pollio.

Pollio added that he will have more control over principal hires, after a law passed this spring gives him the final say in principal selection. Pollio said in all cases he will seek to choose the best leader for each school.

Before a list of candidates ever hits Pollio’s desk, under a new policy discussed Tuesday night, applications would go through a two-tiered process designed to ensure a diversity of candidates are considered. A slating committee would first select unidentified applications based on the candidates’ qualifications, then review the race and gender of that slate of applicants and reconsider the selections before revealing the candidates’ names. That final set of vetted candidates would then go before a site-based decision making council composed of teachers and parents who then recommend a principal to the superintendent, who may approve or reject the candidate.