Jefferson County Public Schools officials will keep a close eye on school lunches this year as the district implements new federal standards that will make meals healthier.The standards approved this year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture bring school meals into compliance with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This means more fruits and vegetables and whole wheat and less sodium and fat in school food. But students need to participate for JCPS to be reimbursed under the National School Lunch Program.To help meet these standards, the government is offering schools 9 cents more to spend on each meal for free-and-reduced lunch students, bringing the total to $2.88 per student. But JCPS nutrition director Julia Bauscher said schools won't get the money if students pass on the healthier foods.“The fact that students need to take a fruit or vegetable is very important for us to communicate that to the students, and to our staff and to parents so that they understand," she said.In the district over 60 percent of the roughly 100,000 students are eligible for a free-and-reduced meal, but only around 80 percent participate in the program, said Bauscher.Of that group, around 80 percent of elementary school students take the necessary amount of produce, but the estimate for high school students falls shorter.“The biggest challenge is going to be in high schools where the majority of students…I would say 50 percent of them take a fruit or vegetable.”JCPS has already been leading the charge in changing recipes and access to fresh produce and participation by students during this initial year would help the district continue its fresh produce initiatives, said Bauscher.In October, JCPS will submit its data to the Kentucky Department of Education and if the district is in compliance it will receive an additional 6 cents per free-and-reduced meal served. The district also receives more money than other districts for having over 60 percent of its students eligible for low-income meals.
Ten candidates are now running for three open seats on the Jefferson County School Board. The most recent to file is 29-year-old Elizabeth Berfield who moved from Illinois four years ago after working as a librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana. Berfield is now a stay at home mother of two.To be on the JCPS board you have to be at least 24 years old and have lived in Kentucky for the last three years prior to filing.Berfield said she has anticipated running for the school board and said she'd like to see JCPS administrators adopt a frugal mindset."I think the superintendent [Donna Hargens] has set a good path to go down as far as cutting a lot of administrative spending. I think 2012 we've been off to a good start, but I would really like to take a firm hand in creating more fiscal responsibility," she said.On her Facebook page she said she’d like the district to cut down on transportation costs and high administrative pay to fund teachers’ pay and infrastructure. She could not be reached for comment.Berfield’s competition in District 2 includes local radio host Tom Mitchell, resident Melissa Rueff and the former Humana chairman David Jones Jr.Joe Hardesty’s District 4 and Larry Hujo’s District 7 seats are also up for grab this fall. The filing deadline is Tuesday.
Jefferson County Public Schools’ Georgia Chafee Teenage Parent Program (TAPP) is making further expansions to accommodate more children in its day-care program this year.The district has two schools for pregnant students or those who already have children. Last year, South Park TAPP renovated its facilities to add 10 more daycare spots.This year, Westport TAPP will follow suit, said TAPP principal Sara York. The eastern-Jefferson County facilities will replace the Head Start program with daycare space, she said.“We need more space for our childcare program and for our own children of our TAPP students,” said York.During the school year, the waiting list for daycare may have anywhere between 25 to 50 students at any given time, she said. The added space this year will allow the program to serve 130 students with children. Two years ago, the program initiated a one child per student rule, which York said has cut down on the number of child students in the program are having.Both TAPP schools serve nearly 600 students annually. Around 120 of those students graduated last year, earning nearly $800,000 in scholarship money, said York.
The Kentucky Board of Education has approved regulations strengthening its policies around restraining misbehaving students.Over the past several years, officials have considered changing the state's education department policies. Several states have laws on the books that regulate restraint. Kentucky is not among them, leaving the education department to set regulations on restraining students.“There’s going to be a training component behind it, that would certainly be welcome, so that you know exactly what you can and cannot do, rather than just trying to interpret a policy, training will be able to assist in implementation of that," said director of Kentucky Center for School Safety Jon Akers, who was involved in early policy discussions.Several organizations and other constituents—including parents—were involved in the change and were part of a early task force that studies the issue and provided suggestions. Under the new policy, all school staff would soon receive annual basic behavioral training. The stronger policy would also limit the use of restraint and seclusion only to situations in which someone is in imminent danger, which wasn't immediately clear under current policy.The new policy has been aligned with recommendations released this year by the federal government.The policy will have a public hearing soon and it needs final approval from the state’s Legislative Research Commission.It would likely be implemented during the 2013 school year.
While Kentucky students as a whole made small gains in graduation rates during the 2010-2011 school year, Jefferson County Public Schools students fell slightly backwards in most major categories.In all major categories--including gender and race-- JCPS continues to fall at least 7 percentage points behind the state. This has been consistent with the four previous years the Kentucky Department of Education has provided.The JCPS total graduation rate dropped from 69.3 percent in 2010 data to 67.8 percent in 2011 bringing the number closer to its 2008 rate of 67.7.For females, the highest performing group in JCPS, the number dropped to 73.7 in 2011 from 74.7 percent the previous year. JCPS females still fall behind the state’s female rate of 81.8.For males, the 2011 rate fell to 62.4 in 2011 from 64.1 in 2010. The district’s white students were the highest performing at 71.8 percent in 2011, falling from 73.4 the previous year, but still fell well behind the state’s 79.1 percent.Other data provided by the Kentucky Department of EducationWhite:2011: 71.82010: 73.42011 (KY): 79.1African American students were the lowest performing of the race group:2011: 62.7 percent2010: 64.2 percentJCPS Hispanic students made no gain, the state’s rate jumped:2011: 73.22010: 73.32011 (KY): 83.62010 (KY): 74.7Asian:2011: 90.92010: 98.42011 (KY): 98.12010 (KY): 100
A diverse pool of candidates has filed for Jefferson County’s three open school board seats. The most recent is local radio host Tom Mitchell, who plans on running an anti-student assignment campaign, according to reports by the Courier-Journal.As the deadline to file nears--Aug. 14--some are hoping interest in the races increases. That idea was included in former Courier-Journal editor David Hawpe's opening speech at the Louisville Forum Wednesday afternoon."In my humble opinion, no institution has as much impact on the quality of life in this community as Jefferson County Public Schools," he said.But Hawpe said he’s disappointed by the lack of local interest in Jefferson County school board races."Down through the years a few board members have been impressive and effective public servants. But in my view, the number major civic figures on the board has been pitifully small," he said.This year, four are vying for Larry Hujo's District 7 seat covering eastern parts of the county; two are competing for Steve Imhoff's District 2 (after one candidate dropped out), and two have filed for Joe Hardesty's District 4 seat in southwestern Jefferson County.The candidates range from concerned parents to prominent public figures and former JCPS staff.But getting people interested in past Jefferson County school board races has been difficult and that can be seen in the amount of money going into the races, said Hawpe.He argues tens of thousands of dollars may go toward a school board race while it's not uncommon for state political races to rake in over $150,000.Most of the money being spent in Jefferson County school board races comes from the Jefferson County Teachers Association, said Hawpe.“The teacher’s association does spend large amounts of money but that’s about the only large spending that goes on in a school board race," he said.This dwarfs personal contributions. While Hawpe said the JCTA doesn’t always get its way, it is a major factor in school board races.JCTA president Brent McKim told WFPL it’s too early to back any of the eight candidates vying for seats because the deadline to file is days away. The union is expected to meet August 29th to decide which of the candidates, if any, it will back.
Former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Randall Shepard will lead a task force looking into the state of legal education across America.The panel was appointed by the American Bar Association. Shepard says it will examine the way schools prepare their students to practice law, and the economic state of the profession."We are at the moment graduating more people from law schools than there are law-related jobs in the country," Shepard told WFPL. "And while part of that may have to do with the current state of the economy, not everyone’s convinced that this will all go back to the days of yore when the recession is over."Shepard says the panel will hold a series of public hearings and at least one conference to hear from law school students, faculty and administrators.Shepard retired from the Indiana Supreme Court earlier this year after a 27-year career on the bench and has since joined Indiana University’s Public Policy Institute.The legal education task force is expected to complete its work in 2014.
Alcohol awareness programs at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville will continue to receive financial support from two Kentucky distilleries. Jim Beam and Brown-Forman are giving a combined $600,000 to the schools to bolster efforts to combat underage and binge drinking across the Commonwealth. “So that those students who don’t know how to use alcohol responsibly, who are using it irresponsibly, and are using it not to enjoy themselves but using it in ways that harm themselves and harm their campuses can learn how to both not use it if they are underage, and to use it responsibly if they are of an age that they are able to drink,” U of L Provost Dr. Shirley Willihnganz said at a press conference announcing the renewed support.It continues a relationship that started back in 2008. Since that time, Beam and Brown-Forman have given more than $1 million for alcohol awareness programs at the two institutions.
The University of Louisville's College of Arts and Sciences Dean, J. Blaine Hudson, is taking a leave of absence following cranial surgery.Hudson sent a message Monday night [below] through assistant dean John Ferre. The e-mail, which was forwarded to college staff, said Hudson had undergone cranial surgery and will now take time to rest. The prognosis remains positive, he wrote, but officials expect him out indefinitely.“We don’t know how long he’s going to be gone and let me be really clear, we are expecting him back," said U of L provost Shirley Willihnganz.Ferre and other school staff will cover his duties in his absence.Hudson is also chairman for Louisville's Violence Prevention Task Force, but a mayoral spokesman said he will step down from his duties to focus on his health.Hudson is a lifelong Louisville resident and has been the college's dean since 2005, according to U of L's website.The following message was sent to college staff last night:Dear colleagues, Currently, I’m dealing with serious health problems (cranial surgery, etc.). Prognosis is good; all marbles are still there. However, I’m taking a leave from U of L and will need a lot of rest. My future status will be a matter for the MDs—and me. I’m not taking visits or phone calls, but am interacting by e-mail.Please know that John [Patrick Ferre], the associate and assistant dean, Pam and the chairs are the best—here and anywhere else and have all A&S business well in hand. And we have Shirley’s full support. Second, also know that I deeply, deeply appreciate the cards and other expressions of concern. All of you are the best, too.Finally, what makes us most special “is us.” I plan to be fine and know that A&S will be so, too.Take care.
Jefferson County Public Schools is one of 107 Kentucky school districts that will use screeners this year to improve education for their youngest students.The state adopted the BRIGANCE kindergarten screener offered by Curriculum Associates, which is being piloted this school year and planned to be implemented in all districts by the 2013-2014 year.Director of products Katie Nicholson says local districts could use the data to help parents understand their child’s skill level entering kindergarten and state leadership could use the screeners to help make policy decisions.“If they have a sense for, here are the biggest needs for our entering kindergartners then that helps them to inform the curriculum they develop or purchase," said Nicholson.Over the next few weeks, JCPS is planning to train their kindergarten teachers in screening students, said Dewey Hensely, JCPS's chief academic officer. The screening process should take 15 minutes per student, but should offer a useful snapshot of the student body entering kindergarten, he said.That information could be used by local districts, said Hensley.“We also hope to triangulate our own pre-K programs or daycare centers that are in Jefferson County that serve our children," he said.The screener is only an assessment. State law says any child five years of age by October is eligible to be taught in the Kentucky school system.
A task force of Kentucky lawmakers is using the next few months to figure out how the state can improve digital learning across all classrooms in the commonwealth.The General Assembly agreed to form the task force to review possible legislative changes that encourage using more technology in schools.The goal now is to propose legislation that pairs up the state with successful digital education providers or programs, said task force co-chair Rep. Carl Rollins.“We will hear hopefully from some companies that have technology available and maybe encourage them to work with some of our schools in a pilot program to introduce the technology at little or no cost," he said.The task force will also likely hear testimony the next few months from teachers and from the Kentucky Education Department, said Rollins.Initial impressions show the highest need for digital learning in 5th and 6th grade classrooms and those will likely be the focus of any legislation that come from the group, he said."In middle schools and especially the high schools, there’s some really exciting things begin done with technology," said Rollins.A report from Open Ed Solutions commissioned by the education department last year recommends beginning the transition to digital assessments over the next few years.
Louisville’s PTA is hosting its annual back-to-school clothing blitz this week and officials say they expect a large turnout this year for the program, which serves less fortunate Jefferson County Public Schools students.The clothing assistance program, or CAP, last year served between 1,000 to 1,500 students just during blitz week, according to CAP director Paula Wolf.“It has been growing," said Wolf. "This year we are already booked through August 30 and we start August 6th so we think its even going to be more people this year. We served almost 7,000 last year and we didn’t fill up this fast so I’m definitely anticipating a growth spurt this year.”This year’s goal is to serve 10,000 students and families, said Wolf.“The rate of free and reduced lunch is way above 10 percent and 10,000 students would just be 10 percent of the JCPS population. So we would feel that that would be a doable goal," she said.Students must be referred to the nearly 40-year-old program. They’ll receive a free uniform including a polo shirt, pants, belt, socks and underwear. Families are also offered certain used clothing for free.Eligible families can seek assistance from CAP twice a year in the fall and spring, but Wolf said during blitz week nearly 200 hundred families will be served each day. The CAP program is located at 319 S. 15th Street.For more information call 502-485-7062.
Two candidates have filed to run for Jefferson County Public School’s District 4 seat, which is being vacated by Joe Hardesty, who has served on the school board since 1990.Melissa “Missy” Smith and Lloyd “Chip” White are the latest to file for one of the district’s three seats up for grabs this fall. Steve Imhoff's District 2 seat and Larry Hujo's District 7 seat are also up for grabs this fall.District 4 covers parts of southwest Louisville.White, 42, is a carpenter who also serves as a commissioner on Louisville’s Planning Commission. White says he’s a working class candidate with five children, and has also acted as a foster parent.“We’ve had over a dozen children in our home at different times, going through different schools and different education levels and I just feel like an excellent person to advocate for children and to help the kids in our school system in our area," he says.White says he plans on meeting constituents in his district before weighing in on any major issues like the district’s student assignment plan or charter schools.Missy Smith could not be reached for comment.Filing for the non-partisan race ends August 14.
The U.S. Department of Education will continue funding Advanced Placement tests for Kentucky’s low-income students this school year, but public schools in Jefferson County with the highest passing AP rates also have the lowest number of low-income students.“In 2010-2011 which is the latest data I have, in Kentucky public schools there were approximately 38,000 AP exams taken," said Lisa Gross, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Education.In Kentucky, around 45 percent of those exams--17,404 of 37,977--resulted in a passing grade, earning students college credit. In JCPS, that rate was 51 percent for the same period out of 7,167 tests, according to JCPS data.JCPS data shows most students earning a passing grade come from four schools: Male, DuPont Manuel, Eastern and Ballard high schools, but those schools also have the lowest number of students receiving free and reduced lunch.Those four schools made up 5,176 of the 7,167 AP tests taken during the 2010-2011 school year, with a combined passing rate of 56.7 percent. The combined rate of students on free and reduced lunches is 24.15 percent, while the district's high school rate is 52.9 percent. All four schools also have above average student bodies, which likely adds to the number of tests taken.Students who sign up for free and reduced meals are how the state determines its low-income student body. The federal government will give nearly $400,000 to Kentucky to help fund AP testing for these students, which at its $38 per exam rate is good for nearly 10,000 tests. The estimate also assumes low-income students can take up to three exams.Gross said the $87 AP exam cost is also subsidized by the College Board, which helps administers the test.