Six JCPS Schools To See Changes

by Rick Howlett on May 4, 2010

By Rick Howlett

The Kentucky Department of Education has released its leadership assessments and recommendations for six low-performing public schools in Jefferson County.

The department has been conducting interventions at Frost and Western Middle Schools and Fern Creek, Shawnee, Western and Valley High Schools.

The recommendations include the restaffing of some teachers, replacing principals at four of the schools and transferring some school-based council authority to the superintendent.

JCPS Superintendent Sheldon Berman (pictured) says the district began working to turn around the schools as far back as three years ago.

He says he’ll appeal two of the principal reassignment recommendations but will move forward with a shake-up of faculty at all six schools.

“Our proposal varied from 14 percent at some schools to a little over 30 percent at others. It’s actually somewhat of a small staffing change,” Berman said.

Berman says on the positive side, the six schools are also getting millions of dollars under a federal grant program to help improve school performance.

Here is JCPS Superintendent Sheldon Berman’s statement regarding the assessments.

Statement from Superintendent Sheldon H. Berman regarding today’s release of the
Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) Leadership Assessments for 6 JCPS schools.

“The Jefferson County Public Schools today received the results of the Kentucky
Department of Education’s leadership assessments for 6 schools that have not made the
required gains in academic achievement. The schools assessed are Frost and Western
Middle, Fern Creek, Shawnee, Western, and Valley High schools.

KDE’s recommendations include the restaffing of the certified employees, authority for the
Superintendent to pursue the hiring of new principals at 4 of the schools (Frost and
Western Middle, Fern Creek and Valley High schools), and the transfer of the school-based
council’s authority to the Superintendent. I anticipate appealing the reassignment of the
principals at Fern Creek and Valley High schools because I believe they are capable of
turning around their schools. Plans were already in place for the reassignment of both
middle school principals.

We started the turnaround at each of these schools either 2 or 3 years ago and we will
continue with our restructuring work because we are confident in the positive direction
these schools are moving. JCPS has thirty days to submit its appeal and KDE in turn has
another thirty days to respond.

District staff will continue to analyze the report and our options and will provide a full
report to the Board of Education at a special called meeting later this week. At Monday’s
regularly scheduled meeting, I will formally recommend to the Board that the District
appeal the recommendations regarding the principal reassignments.

To the school communities, I encourage you to stay focused on the remainder of the
school year. This is just the first step in a very long process.”

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{ 1 comment }

Myrdin Thompson May 5, 2010 at 8:37 am

As the 15th District PTA President I was interviewed by the audit committee in regard to parent engagement initiatives as well as how the district encourages parental engagement, especially at these schools. We have tremendous support from JCPS for the PTA, and partner with them on several projects (Parent Leadership Academy and the Clothing Assistance Program for example) as well as support for other initiatives that the PTA champions (the Reflections Program and District Wide Spelling Bee). The decline in parent engagement in recent years is not unique to our school district or to our State. I recently had the unique opportunity to attend, as the Kentucky delegate, Parenting Magazine’s Mom Congress, where I met 50 other moms who discussed these very issues about the role of parents in connection with the education of our children.
We discussed how parents are often very involved, particularly at the elementary school level, but somehow start to become disconnected in the middle and high school years, as often times we mistakenly believe and perhaps school climate suggests this, that our presence will only hinder the emotional and educational growth of our children who are transforming themselves into responsible adults. Middle and High Schools also shift parent engagement away from general support of an entire school and student population to more focused/specific support of student programs such as being a band booster, academic team supporter, and so forth. As we encourage our children to become involved in extra curricular activities (perhaps to expand their interests, social circle or for a specific college they are interested in) we also encourage our parents to do the same. Thus we actually have MORE parental involvement at the middle and high school years, but it is specific and goal/group focus and less generally “school” supportive.

That is not to say that the parent engagement at these schools was lacking or that changes do need to be initiated, but this was not something that happened overnight. It is our goal as a PTA to support the students, parents, teachers, and administrators in the best of our abilities so that all students at these schools achieve their fullest potential.

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