JCPS ‘School of Innovation’ Finalists Prepare for July Presentations

Later this month, finalists present their proposals for an innovative community-designed Jefferson County Public school.

One of the designs is expected to become a new school in Louisville.

The submissions are part of the  JCPS School of Innovation Design Competition, and proposed plans range from using Louisville museums as a classroom to a year-around school.

Earlier: Here Are The School of Innovation Finalists

Over the last couple of months, the groups worked with JCPS staff and — such as the student assignment and budget offices — to help craft their proposals to make them fit with the district’s needs.

All of the proposals address educating children who come from challenging circumstances, said JCPS student assignment director Jonathan Lowe, who is also leading the school design competition.

Lowe couldn’t give any cost estimates at this point but said “each of those [designs] is going to have different costs associated with it. We’re working on the concept right now and once we agree on what the concept is then we’ll work out the nuts and bolts on cost.”

At this point JCPS has no plan to build a new facility for the winning design, he said. The district is reviewing its long-term facilities plan, which has not yet included a new innovation school. But Lowe said the district plans to open the school with winning concept in the fall of next year.

JCPS and a few other Kentucky districts have earned the right to waive certain state education requirements under the state Districts of Innovation law passed in 2012.

The design groups haven’t had to compromise their plans much to meet state and federal requirements, Lowe said. But no state test waivers can be granted.

Further, some called the Districts of Innovation law a compromise bill for not passing charter school legislation. Charter school supporters say the law doesn’t go far enough to allow for ultimate flexibility in who can manage the school, and how.

But Lowesaid public schools can be just as creative as the most successful charters.

 “Successful ones do these series of things that are things that an innovative public school system can do on its own,” he said.

Earlier: Listen to the 12 School of Innovation semifinalists’ presentations to JCPS.

The finalists present their plans to the Jefferson County Board of Education on July 28.

A finalist will be announced on Aug. 11.

Devin Katayama

Devin Katayama hosts middays for WFPL and reports on education and other Louisville issues.

@DevinWFPL

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