With less than a month until the elections, the Jefferson County Teachers Association’s political action committee (PAC) has begun spending money on the three candidates it has endorsed.The JCTA has historically been the largest financial supporter of candidates in past elections, spending around $1 million in the last three elections, and for the first time a separate PAC called the Bluegrass Fund was created.The JCTA’s Better Schools Kentucky PAC has spent $40,000 for three billboards and several smaller posters in each of the three open districts (2, 4 and 7), according to Nick Ising of Current Marketing, the company hired by Better Schools. It has also spent $30,000 for radio advertisements, which are expected to begin next week, according to Tim Mulloy of Peritus.The Bluegrass Fund has raised $67,000, and its leaders say they plan to represent a public voice in the schools board races, which have been financially dominated by the teachers union in the past. The group has not yet announced how they plan to spend their money.The JCTA has endorsed Chris Brady in District 7, Lloyd White in District 4 and David Jones Jr. in District 2. PACs are not leagally allowed to collaborate with any candidate it supports.
The University of Louisville Foundation has opened a downtown work-space called "iHub" for local entrepreneurs and innovators working on a tight budget.Local and state officials celebrated the opening of the new downtown iHub Tuesday.It’s a 2,200 square foot building offering young start-up companies or businesses a spot for $80 a month. The idea is to give entrepreneurs a space where they can conduct business and also collaborate, said Mayor Greg Fischer.This, he said, is important in the early phases of starting a business.“What iHub will do is there will be 20 other people around you that might be going through that same thought process from time to time. And there will be somebody there to pick you up and buck you up and challenge you at the same time to say you can do this, you’ve done it before, we’ve done it, let’s go get after it," said Fischer.Fischer has made it a priority to expand business in the Louisville region. Over the past decade the number of adults between 25 to 34 earning a college degree has increased by 5.8 percent. And while the region has grown its young professional population, it still lags in competitive wage growth and the number of jobs available.The iHub, which hopes to grow competitive businesses, is not a new conception. There are hundreds of spaces like this around the United States and the idea was encouraged after visiting a similar space in Boston. It sets in motion a process that is too often left to chance, said Gov. Steve Beshear. For example, he explains, Procter and Gamble were brothers in law, Hewlett and Packard met at a college football tryout. But iHub will help those not so lucky develop and harvest their ideas.“It’s where some of Kentucky’s best and most innovative can work, can network, and can form relationships that will help their businesses succeed and grow,” said Beshear.Renters will also have the chance to participate in monthly meetings, classes and mentoring sessions.President James Ramsey said because U of L is one of two research universities in the state, it also has a responsibility to harvest innovative thinking.“That all has to start somewhere. And it starts with our faculty, but then getting it to the commercial stage and getting it to that marketplace has to start somewhere and that somewhere is right here,” he said.Officials say there are already 14 individuals committed to participating. They further say they hope some successful entrepreneurs will consider moving to U of L’s larger business incubator being built across the street on the former Haymarket site.That project is expected to be complete in May of next year.
Preliminary data presented to the Kentucky Board of Education shows just one in four children in the state are prepared for kindergarten. Education Commissioner Terry Holliday told the board during a meeting in Frankfort on Tuesday that he expects that number to go up next year when all 174 school districts undertake kindergarten screening. This year, about 109 districts participated in the screening, representing 34,500 children. All school districts will be required to use the screening next year. Officials say the tests, developed with a company called Brigance, look at the whole child, including assessing their social and emotional development. Holliday told the board that the screenings are crucial to the state's reform efforts because they will identify students who need additional help.
The Kentucky Board of Education has approved a new restraint policy this week, which several educators argue is too vague.The new regulations would only allow teachers to physically restrain or seclude misbehaving students when they pose an immediate threat or physical harm.Several superintendents spoke at a public hearing last month against the policy. They argued teachers dealing with misbehaving students often need to make quick decisions, and the consequences aren’t spelled out in the policy.“They granted a lot of folks opportunities to say their peace, but they passed the regulation which they felt was best suited for our state," said Jon Akers is executive director of the Kentucky Center for School Safety, which helped propose recommendations to the board.The policy does include some intervention training for school staff, but the provision in previous drafts requiring annual training was scratched from the final regulations.“I think the key would be to have to appropriate training so that school staff, principals, teachers and aids will know what’s exactly expected of them," said Akers.The new regulations also exclude using restraint or secluding students who use hands to communicate, like sign language.The policy now goes to the Legislative Review Committee for review.
Certain private schools in the Louisville region are taking a page from the public school system by implementing portions of the common core state standards.Kentucky was among the first states to adopt and implement the new standards unifying what students are expected to learn, which is why all but four states have conformed.The standards further decrease the content in classrooms but focus more in-depth on what’s being taught. That’s the primary reason why the Archdiocese of Louisville decided to implement the standards for its math curriculum, said superintendent Leisa Schulz.“We certainly want to continue to challenge our students, to challenge ourselves, increase the rigor that’s out there,” she said.Experts also say pressure from states—which are partly being encouraged to implement the standards with incentives—is another reason why some private schools are considering implementing the standards, according an Education Week article.Text book and test publishers are beginning to reflect the common core, which may eventually lead to reshaping college entrance exams, writes author Eric Robelen.Elements of the standards are showing up in several private school systems across the nation including more than 100 Roman Catholic dioceses and several other Christian school systems, according to the article.When the Archdiocese reviewed its math curriculum two years ago, Schulz said officials decided the common core standards offered the most competitive learning model.She further said they are the most widely recognized and best practice in education curriculum, and more educators and education businesses will be providing support in the future for the change in curriculum.“So they want to make sure that the materials they’re producing for students and for teachers are aligned with what the current best practice is,” she said.The Archdiocese of Louisville will review its English/language arts curriculum next and will likely adopt the common core standards again, said Schulz.The Archdiocese follows the Kentucky Department of Education’s curriculum as a guide, but makes adjustments to fit the church’s mission, she said.Louisville’s Christian Academy School System has also implemented the common core standards.
A group of former Jefferson County Teacher’s Association presidents are prepared to support Marty Bell for the District 7 school board race, even though the JCTA has endorsed one of his competitors.Bell, a former Jefferson County Public Schools administrator and former JCTA executive director, is one of five candidates vying to replace outgoing board member Larry Hujo.He was the only candidate not considered for endorsement by the teacher’s union as a whole, he said.Former JCTA executive director Steven Neal and former JCTA president Jane Charmoli both told WFPL under past leadership, all candidates were invited to interview.Bell is a qualified candidate, said Charmoli, and the union has lost its sense of direction.Now, a letter is being crafted supporting Bell, but Charmoli said it also serves as a protest against current JCTA leaders.“It’s a very hard letter for us to write because this has nothing to do with being against teachers in the classroom. When we were president, helping teachers teach is what we were all about. It has nothing to do with the organization because we worked very hard to build it,” she said.Charmoli said current JCTA leadership seems much more interested in getting certain candidates removed from the ballot. Bell was involved in a lawsuit earlier this year after the union questioned his motives behind emails he sent to JCPS staff. The lawsuit was dismissed.JCTA president Brent McKim was unavailable for comment but the union has endorsed candidate Chris Brady in the district.Of the other candidates, Sexton received an interview with the JCTA, said Bell.Candidate Jonathan Robertson said he did receive a questionnaire, but was not asked to interview.Christopher Fell said he was sent a JCTA questionnaire, which he sent back explaining he didn’t want its support.Fell said his campaign is supported all out-of-pocket and he hasn’t asked for any monetary donations. What he has asked for is scrap metal and aluminum cans which he’ll recycle, he said. So far, he has spent around $300, he said.
Officials with the Kentucky Department of Education say they’re taking extra precautions before releasing data from the new accountability system and the public may have to wait until November to see results.“We want to make sure that data’s clean. It’s a like a row of dominos. If one doesn’t fall the correct way then all the other ones are affected,” said KDE spokeswoman Lisa Gross.Kentucky implemented its new accountability system last year. In includes new college-and-career ready standards and common core standards that unify what students are expected to learn.But the new system will also set the bar higher, which officials have warned will show fewer students are proficient.Gross said the education department is waiting on multiple testing companies to finish their work, and for Kentucky school districts to confirm their data.“We really want to give schools districts plenty of time to review their data because there’s nothing worse than releasing data and then having to come back and say, oh we need to fix this,” said Gross.Before implementing its new standards last year, the state would traditionally release performance results no later than September. The results could still come later this month, but the department will not rush delivery, said Gross.The Kentucky Board of Education will hear estimates Monday on what preliminary state-wide data is available.
A new health resource should be available in all 155 Jefferson County Public Schools by the end of the year.The program HealthTeacher concentrates on improving healthy outcomes for students, and also provides resources that extend beyond the classroom.“We think it helps both advance the core standards but also introduce the health and wellness curriculum throughout JCPS,” said Lynnie Meyer, executive director of the Children’s Hospital Foundation.The three-year initiative is being funded by the Humana Foundation and the Children’s Hospital Foundation—each of which are donating $100,000 per year.HealthTeacher is an evidence-based program that’s already in thousands of schools around the country. It’s an interactive tool teachers can use to integrate health education into their curriculum. It’s also compatible with the state’s new standards.Meyer said physical education and health teachers will be the first to use the program, but HealthTeacher offers resources for several subjects.“There’s information on bullying, and obesity and depression and there’s a family news letter that presents at-home information and ways to reinforce health habits at home,” she said.Teachers won’t be required to use the program, but Meyer hopes it will result in positive health outcomes for Jefferson County children.
Residents in southeastern Jefferson County will have a pool of school board candidates this fall that range in experience and vision for improving student achievement.The last of WFPL's Jefferson County Board of Education election debates ended Tuesday night. The five candidates competing for retiring board member Larry Hujo's District 7 seat--Chris Brady, Christopher Fell, Marty Bell, James Sexton and Jonathan Robertson--discussed taxes, charter schools, neighborhood schools and much more.WFPL will have a one-hour new special later this month with segments of all the debates. To listen to the District 2 debate click here. To listen to the District 4 debate click here.The elections are Nov. 6.
Jefferson County Public Schools is offering families a chance to apply for their school choices online for the first time following the school showcases, which will be held at the end of this month for middle and high schools.The move is one of several changes to the application process following the school board’s recent approval of the new student assignment plan.Further changes include moving the elementary school showcase up to Nov. 17, and requiring applications for all grade levels to be in by Jan. 11. The district is also giving families one week to decide whether to accept an elementary magnet school admission, which is less time than before.The move, said JCPS planning Director Dena Dossett, will give families a chance to adapt to their school earlier than before.It will also allow the district to process applications more efficiently, Dossett said.Following the middle and high school showcase between Oct. 26 and 27, JCPS will open up the application process to families on Oct. 29, she said.“They can register and apply from home or they can come to one of our registration sites located throughout the district and get some one on one help from a registration site or just access to computers if they don’t have any available to them," said Dossett.The district has made its middle and high school “Choices” catalog available online for parents to review. The middle and high school showcase will be at the Kentucky International Convention Center.Dossett said the elementary school "Choices" catalog will be available later this month.
The last of WFPL's Jefferson County Board of Education election debates is tonight at 6:30 pm.WFPL has held District 2 and District 4 debates in previous weeks and all five candidates vying for southeastern Louisville's District 7 seat have confirmed their attendance tonight.Candidates, Jonathan Robertson, Marty Bell, Chris Brady, Chris Fell and James Sexton are all vying to replace retiring board member Larry Hujo.The event is free and open to the public. The debates begin at 6:30 pm Thursday night at 619 South Fourth Street. Please arrive early.
The last of 48 Jefferson County Public Schools students involved in a bus accident last week was released from Kosair Children’s Hospital Monday.The district will continue offering counseling services throughout the week as needed.On Friday, a bus heading toward Frost Middle School was hit by a car carrying three students from Butler High.District officials say none of the injuries were life threatening and most of the students were released either last Friday or over the weekend.Spokeswoman Christi Linear-Robinson said the district reached out to parents over the weekend and counselors were in schools Monday, but will continue to be available throughout the week.“Counselors will be on hand for as long as needed. They were there today and will probably be there tomorrow but they will continue to be available to students and their families as long as is needed," she said.Some families were critical of the district’s response immediately following the accident, but district officials said they responded according to the information provided by EMS.
Jefferson County Public Schools students continue challenging themselves with Advanced Placement (AP) classes, but the results of their exams are mixed.Over the past decade the number of JCPS students taking at least one AP exam has slowly increased as well as the total number of exams taken. The state released its AP test data last week, which showed similar gains in both areas.But the results, which could earn students college credit, decreased in JCPS. Still, around half the tests taken earned college credit, which is on par with the state’s results.In JCPS, about half of the district’s high schools increased their passing rates while the other half saw decreases.Participation in AP exams by JCPS high school students this year increased by eight percent, to nearly 5,000 students.DuPont Manuel, Ballard and Eastern high schools are at the top of the pack for number of tests taken and passing rates. The three schools account for over half of the AP tests taken in JCPS.Western, Atherton and Central high schools all increased the number of tests taken and all saw increases in passing rates.
Jefferson County’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, LIHEAP, is now accepting early registration for elderly and disabled residents facing utility cutoffs.Officials expect a turnout similar to last year when around 3,700 people pre-registered for the program. The federally funded program LIHEAP has been around for years. It provides a one-time payment to low-income applicants, which is used to pay for utilities.In all, more than 10,000 residents received between $34 to $150 last year.Debbie Belt helps the city administer LIHEAP. She said eligible elderly and disabled residents may begin reregistering now, and all eligible applicants can register at the end of October. “It’s a one-time subsidy, so even those who apply in October they’re just pre-registering but their funds will not be posted until November 5, or after, to their LGE account or utility provider because that’s when the program officially begins,” said Belt.Last year, Jefferson County’s LIHEAP spent $1.3 million. Residents not meeting the pre-registration guidelines will be able to apply beginning Oct. 31 at the central Community Action Partnership (CAP) office at 819 Barret Avenue.Applicants looking to pre-register must bring the following:Picture ID for head of household Proof of all household income for the preceding month (food stamp award letter, pay stubs, etc.). All individuals 18 or over in the household with no income must have a Proof of No Income form completed prior to applying for benefits. (Available at the CAP office at 810 Barret or athttp://www.louisvilleky.gov/CSR/Community+Services/LIHEAP.htm)Social Security card(s) or official documentation with social security numbers or Permanent Resident Card Numbers for everyone living in the household. Most recent heating bill or verification from landlord that heating expenses are included in the rent (i.e. lease agreements).Residents who meet the early registration requirements may apply at the following locations:-Mon., Oct.1Newburg Community Center, 4810 Exeter Ave., Lou., KY 40218, 8:30-11:30 a.m.-Tues., Oct. 2Southwick Community Center, 3621 Southern Ave., Lou., KY 40211, 8:30-11:30 a.m.-Wed., Oct. 3Portland Community Center, 640 North 27th St., Lou., KY 40212, 8:30-11:30 a.m.-Thurs., Oct. 4Shively Senior Center, 3901 Wayside Dr., Lou., KY 40216, 8:30-11:30 a.m.-Fri., Oct. 5Flaget Community Center, 4425 Greenwood Ave., Lou., KY 40211, 8:30-11:30 a.m.-Mon., Oct. 8Sun Valley Community Center, 6505 Bethany Ln.., Lou., KY 40272, 8:30-11:30 a.m.-Wed., Oct. 10Baxter Community Center, 1125 Cedar Ct., Lou., KY 40203, 8:30-11:30 a.m.-Thurs., Oct. 11California Community Center, 1600 West St. Catherine, Lou., KY 40210, 8:30-11:30 a.m.-Fri., Oct. 12Wilderness Road, 8111 Blue Lick Rd., Lou., KY 40219, 8:30-11:30 a.m.-Fri., Oct. 12Watson-Powell, 1836 Heafer Rd., Lou., KY 40223, 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.-Mon., Oct. 15Shelby Park Community Center, 600 East Oak St., Lou., KY 40203, 8:30-11:30 a.m.-Tues., Oct. 16Parkhill Community Center, 1703 South 13th St., Lou., KY 40210, 8:30-11:30 a.m.-Wed., Oct. 17Oak & Acorn, 631 South 28th St., Lou., KY 40211, 8:30-11:30 a.m.-Thurs., Oct. 18Beechmont Community Center, 205 West Wellington Ave., Lou., KY 40214, 8:30-11:30 a.m.-Fri., Oct 19Allgeier Community Center, 4104 Cadillac Ct., Lou., KY 40213, 8:30 10:30 a.m.-Mon., Oct. 22Presbyterian Community Center, 701 South Hancock, Lou., KY 40203, 8:30-11:30 a.m.-Tues., Oct. 23Jeffersontown Community Center, 10617 Taylorsville Rd., Lou., KY 40299, 8:30-11:30 a.m.-Wed., Oct. 24Shawnee Arts & Cultural Center, 607 South 37th St, 40211, 8:30-11:30 a.m.-Thurs., Oct. 25South Louisville Community Center, 2911 Taylor Blvd., Lou., KY 40208, 8:30-11:30 a.m.