JCPS Hears Early Analysis of Proposed Student Assignment Plan

by Devin Katayama on September 26, 2011

The Jefferson County Public Schools’ board is concerned it may be too early to discuss consultant and UCLA professor Dr. Gary Orfield’s student assignment plan recommendations with the public.

JCPS board members saw early research on Orfield’s recommendations Monday night. Board members were briefed by JCPS staff members working on various issues of the plan. The district is preparing to seek opinions from staff, principals and the public this week. But some board members said it may be premature to have discussions about student assignment, just two weeks after Orfield submitted his recommendations.

Board Chair Steve Imhoff said he was on the fence about going public this early.

“But I came back around. It’s good to hear what their (parents) comments are on the general concept. We’re looking at the general concept, we want to hear what parents think about the concept,” Imhoff said.

And despite concerns, the board decided the benefits outweighed the costs. Discussions touched upon how involved the public should be this early in the process. Some board members expressed concern that it would be difficult to convey any proposed ideas without confusing the public. But ultimately, having public discussions early in the process will allow parents to learn about the options and ask questions, even though the answers may change during the process, said Imhoff.

“And ultimately they’re going to want to know, at least when we have these sessions next week, where it is likely your student might go. But no guarantee, because we’re not going to vote on this for another month or two,” he said.

On Wednesday JCPS will hold a staff meeting. Anyone from JCPS can attend to learn about the process. Then on Thursday, JCPS will present the research to elementary school principals, who would most be affected by the proposals. The meeting will be followed by the first of five public meetings where the district will hear input from the community.

Early research shows that Orfield’s proposed 13 clusters would cut down on busing times, but more research is needed to test the feasibility of the plan, said school officials. The 13 clusters were adjusted by the board to account for school capacity, but they kept Orfield’s diversity requirements intact.

The district will continue with research and has scheduled the following five public meetings to discuss the concept of Orfield’s recommendations.

Any final decisions must be voted on and approved by the school board.

Thursday, Sept. 29 – Gheens Academy, 4425 Preston Hwy, 7pm

Saturday, Oct. 1 – Central High, 1130 W. Chestnut St, 10am

Monday, Oct. 3 – Ballard High, 6000 Brownsboro Rd, 7pm

Tuesday, Oct. 4 – Doss High, 7601 St. Andrews Church Rd, 7pm

Thursday, Oct. 13 – Southern High, 8620 Preston Hwy, 7pm

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