Education

Several Jefferson County school board members say they feel the process for revising the student assignment plan is moving at a sluggish pace.                         

At their Tuesday night work session, board members discussed guiding principles for shaping the student assignment plan. These principles were compiled with input from the student assignment review committee, which is made up of parents, teachers and administrators.

“At this point in the process, with the timelines that we had been given in the past, I had hoped to see more of a concrete draft of a plan, rather than trying to knead out ‘OK, what are the core principles?’” said board member Benjamin Gies. “I feel like that should’ve been done a long time ago.”

Board member Chris Brady said he shared those concerns about the timeline. The Board of Education is expected to approve a new plan by the end of the summer, so that students can begin using the plan in the fall of 2019 for placement in schools in the fall of 2020. At this point, no concrete proposals have been publicly presented.

So far, the district has completed a community survey of its current student assignment plan, held public forums at four high schools, and received input from the student assignment review committee, which met over the course of several months.

One member of that committee, Marian Vasser, also questioned the pace of the plan’s development. At the final meeting of that committee earlier this month, Vasser asked if the plan was being formed behind closed doors. JCPS staff leading that meeting assured her no plan had been developed yet.

JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio said it is important to move carefully with the student assignment plan, because it is “the most controversial” issue the board oversees.

“We have one real crack at this to do this and do it right,” Pollio said. “We want to move quickly on this, but we also don’t want to rush it.”

“What I hear the board saying is, ‘Are we close? Will we have something?'” board chair Diane Porter said at the close of discussion. “The bottom line is, there have been many meetings; there is not a recommendation coming today.”

JCPS is expected to revise its student assignment plan to meet the expectations laid out in its corrective action plan, which originated from its settlement with the Kentucky Department of Education to avoid a state takeover of the district.

JCPS spokeswoman Renee Murphy said the corrective action plan does not make clear to what extent the plan must be revised before the Kentucky Department of Education conducts another audit of the district in 2020.

The Board of Education is expected to approve the guiding principles for the plan at its May business meeting.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the student assignment review committee was made up of parents. It is made up of parents, teachers and administrators.

Liz Schlemmer is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.