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.
While local PTA leaders have stressed the importance of parent engagement, membership in Jefferson County’s 15th District PTA has decreased the last three years.Parent engagement has long been said to be crucial to student success, and local leaders are asking parents to step up participation.President Cherie Dimar said in the 2009-2010 school year the 15th District PTA—which includes 141 local PTAs—had 55,521 members. The following year there were 47,287 members and last year membership was at 41,514.Membership for the PTA varies depending on location but costs can run up to several dollars."We did expect to see a decrease in membership slightly just because of the economic conditions of today’s society,” said Aneeka Ferrell, diversity consultant for the 15th District PTA.According to data from the National PTA, June 2012 membership is up 4.76 percent--or 4,901 members-- from June 2011 data. Further the number of local PTAs is up 10.5 percent--444--when compared to last year's numbers.Dimar said the economy may be playing a role in the smaller numbers, but she says fewer participants means a smaller voice.“Just even joining, that membership adds to the number of people that are in our organization and that gives us more power because we also do advocacy at the state level and we also go to the national level,” said Dimar.Last year was also when the state began implementing its common core standards and its new accountability system, and education officials says educating the public on what the changes mean is crucial.Over the past year, the 15th District PTA has educated over 9,000 participants on changes to the state’s accountability system through a grant from the National PTA.The group is offering a workshop on the common core standards adopted by Kentucky and most states last year.The meeting will take place Wednesday at the Highlands branch library at 7 pm.For more information visit the 15th District PTA website.
A fourth candidate has filed to run for the Jefferson County school board’s district 7 seat, which includes eastern parts of the county.Marty Bell recently resigned from his position as chief academic officer with Indiana's Greater Clark County Schools and he spent years in JCPS serving as a deputy superintendent.Bell will be running against James Sexton, the principal at Jeffersonville High School in Indiana, Chris Fell, who is currently involved in a lawsuit challenging the JCPS student assignment plan, and Chris Brady, who is backed by current District 7 board member Larry Hujo.Bell said his nearly 20 years of service in JCPS sets him apart from other candidates.“I probably know the school system as well as or better than most people in the community. I know it from the inside and I know it from the outside," he said.Bell said he supports the most recent changes to the student assignment plan and is an opponent of charter schools. His approach to problem solving is pragmatic, he said.“I spent 20, 25 years of my career being data driven," said Bell.Joe Hardesty’s District 4 seat and Steve Imhoff’s District 2 seat are also up for election.
Louisville attorney David Kaplan is withdrawing his candidacy for the Jefferson County School Board to support former Humana chairman David Jones Jr. for the District 2 seat.The 41-year-old Kaplan is the father of two young children who attend JCPS. He is a managing partner at Miller Wells law firm and is a former Kentucky assistant attorney general.Kaplan says he filed to run to make positive changes in education policy, but after meeting with Jones he found the two generally agree.Kaplan’s departure leaves resident Melissa Rueff running against Jones. The seat is being vacated by former school board chairman Steve Imhoff, who announced he will not seek re-election this year.Kaplan's campaign release the following statement:“I filed to run for Jefferson County School Board because I knew I could make a positive difference for the schoolchildren of District 2 – including my own son and daughter. When I entered the race, I was unaware that David Jones Jr. was also planning to run in this district. After Mr. Jones announced his candidacy, I reached out to him about why he was running and discovered we share a lot of common ground, including our agreement on the paramount importance of boosting student achievement district wide. I already knew Mr. Jones as a successful Chairman at Chrysalis Ventures. In our meeting, I also found him to be a thoughtful individual who is highly qualified for the position, passionate about education, and 100 percent committed to serving our community. From the founding and astronomical growth of one of Louisville’s biggest employers, Humana, the development of the one of the nation’s biggest new public parks projects, The Parklands at Floyds Fork, to their generous support of public education and leadership in the 55,000 Degrees initiative, the Jones family has given much to make Louisville great.
Jefferson County will receive state funding for the fifth year in a row to study and implement early childhood education initiatives in the area.Gov. Steve Beshear announced this week the 21 counties that would receive some of the state’s $600,000 worth of grants to implement the Community Early Childhood Councils program.The councils include local leaders who meet and address how to improve early childhood education issues in their respective communities. The $50,000 allotted to Jefferson County is the seventh grant the county has recieved since the program began in 2000.For the past three years a majority of that money has supported a kindergarten screener program, said Julie Leezer, director at Cardinal Hill Rehab Center for Louisville Easter Seals and also chair of the Jefferson County council.The Jefferson County council is composed of 18 members and includes representatives from non-profit organizations and the mayor’s office.Leezer said the Ages and Stages program gives parents a tool to understand how prepared their child is for school.“It’s a screener just to screen your child to see if they’re having any type of delays or if their development is on target," she said.Nearly half the budget supports this program, she said. The remaining funds support various professional developments for educators and further community outreach.The Kentucky Department of Education has also taken an interest in screening students prior to beginning kindergarten. The state is asking some districts to test a program this fall, which it wants to implement in all counties the follow school year.Here are the amounts Jefferson County has received for the program according to the Governor's Office for Early Childhood:2013 $50,0002012 $50,0002011 $22,5002010 $40,0002009 $40,0002008 active Council but did not apply2007 active Council but did not apply2006 $40,0002005 $40,0002003 $50,000