A JCPS school board member is voicing concern about a proposal that would move more grade levels into Frost Middle School, because of the school’s proximity to a coal-fired power plant. The school board is scheduled to vote on the change tonight.
JCPS is one of the state’s four “Districts of Innovation,” which allows them to waive certain education department requirements. As part of that, the district is proposing a few changes for Frost Middle School, one of its lowest-performing schools. The plan is for Frost to transform into a sixth-grade academy, and also house the Phoenix School of Discovery, an alternative program.
But Frost is also directly adjacent to Louisville Gas and Electric’s coal-fired Mill Creek Power Plant, and inside a federally-designated sulfur dioxide nonattainment zone (that means the air there doesn’t meet air quality standards). And school board member Chris Brady says the JCPS plan would potentially change Frost from a three-year school to a seven-year school, increasing children’s exposure to the plant’s pollution.
“My issue is not with the plan at all. It’s just where it’s going to be. I think the plan for Frost is great, except for it’s at Frost,” he said.
Even short term sulfur dioxide exposure has been linked to respiratory problems.
“And the fact that we’re actually thinking about lengthening the amount of time that they’re going to be exposed to this material…” Brady said. “I think JCPS [should] take a real good, hard look at what to do with those kids and my view, I think we should reassign those kids to other middle schools which currently have capacity to be able to take them.”
Brady says he’ll vote against the plan, and hopes closing the school permanently will be considered in the future. Frost is in school board member Chuck Haddaway’s district; he said via email that he’s still collecting information about the issues.