Mon December 9, 2013
JCPS Approves Frost Middle School Redesign Despite Air Quality Concerns
The Jefferson County school board approved school redesigns in the southwest, which aim to attract more students living in the area that are leaving for better options. But board member Chris Brady says students may now be exposed longer to air that doesn't meet quality standards.
“Would you want your children or your grandchildren to go to Frost. The answer for me is simply no. In my view this proposal puts our children at increased risk and should be denied,” he says.
The 6-1 vote means beginning next year Frost Middle School will only serve sixth grade students, while seventh and eighth graders will move over to Valley High School. But students from The Phoenix School of Discovery--an alternative school serving middle and high school students--will move into Frost too and they could spend up to seven years there, Brady says.
Still, that didn't override the academic benefits that JCPS staff believe can help turn around student achievement.
Frost Middle School has a history of low attendance, poor test scores and high suspensions. The proposal was one of several JCPS introduced to help turn around student achievement; the other proposals have been tabled for now.
“We’ve looked at some very good research-based strategies that guide this work,” says Dewey Hensley, Jefferson County Public Schools chief academic officer.
Under the plan, middle school students at both Frost and Valley will benefit from more academic and social supports, Hensley says. This includes an extended school day—which some struggling schools already have—and students will attend a four-week summer program so teachers can identify student needs and begin offering interventions if necessary, he says.
Though board member Linda Duncan expressed concern with the extended learning time and additional stress on teachers, Hensley says there has been staff buy-in.
“Teachers can be excited about the work. They can be more focused. The can spend time intervening with students based on individual needs,” says Hensley.
Backed by several audience supporters, Brady presented what he believed to be violations of Louisville Gas and Electric’s coal-fired Mill Creek Power Plant.
Other board members expressed concern about the health risks too and requested that Superintendent Donna Hargens look into the issue and report back.