Education

Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) has released proposed boundaries for its new middle and high school student assignment plan, which would create major changes in where students in Louisville’s West End attend school. The district is seeking input from the public before it brings a final plan to the JCPS Board of Education for approval this summer.

West End Students Could Stay Close To Home

Louisville is a highly segregated city. For decades the district has brought students from majority Black west Louisville to schools in the majority white East End, and other parts of town, in an effort to make schools more integrated. As in many cities, this has put the burden of racial integration on Black students.

“Since the mid-1970s, middle and high school students in west Louisville have often been forced to leave their community to attend school, and it hasn’t been their choice,” JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio said in a YouTube video explaining the new student assignment proposal.

The new plan would still allow West End students to attend East End schools. But it would also allow students to stay close to home, if they choose. The district is planning on building and renovating schools in west Louisville to give students better options in the neighborhood.

“It’s time we invest in our students, and that our buildings reflect how we see them in their futures,” Pollio said, noting that the last time the district built a middle or high school in west Louisville was 1956, when JCPS built Central High School.

Pollio said the district needs to build two middle schools and a high school in the West End in order to create enough space for thousands of west Louisville students who currently attend school elsewhere.

New Boundaries

The proposed plan would still allow students in the West End to go to schools in other parts of the city if they choose. But the district has proposed changes to the “satellite zones” in the West End. These are geographic areas in the West End that correspond to a school elsewhere.

The current high school satellite zones for Louisville's West End.Jefferson County Public

The current high school satellite zones for Louisville’s West End.

The current middle school satellite zones.Jefferson County Public Schools

The current middle school satellite zones.

The new plan would consolidate and simplify the West End satellite zones. The current satellite zones are a complicated patchwork, with neighborhoods carved up into many pieces. For example, students who live in the Shawnee neighborhood could attend one of seven different high schools (not including magnet school options), depending on which block they live on. And there are 50 different scenarios for students to progress from middle to high school.

The new proposal would consolidate the patchwork into larger contiguous sections. Going back to the the Shawnee neighborhood as an example, under the proposed new boundaries, students in that area could attend one of three high schools, as opposed to one of seven. And under the proposed plan, each satellite zone, save one, would correspond to one middle school and one high school.

The proposed new middle and high school satellite zones.Jefferson County Public Schools

The proposed new middle and high school satellite zones.

The district is asking for feedback from the public through this Google Form.

The board is planning to vote on the new student assignment plan later this summer. If approved, it will go into effect for the 2021-2022 school year.

Jess Clark is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.