The Jefferson County Board of Education has been presented a new student assignment plan after months of anticipation, but the board has delayed any decisions about implementing the plan until next month.
The new plan was proposed to the board at Monday night’s board meeting. The proposal maintains the current six clusters and boundaries the district uses to measure diversity, but includes new diversity criteria recommended by UCLA professor Gary Orfield, who provided the district with ideas in September.
The plan organizes the 570 census block groups into a Category 1, Category 2 or Category 3 based on income, race and education level. The plan says no cluster can have a majority of students from Category 1, which represents the lowest of the criteria. The plan also includes English as a Second Language (ESL) students in its diversity count, which would be new to the district.
These changes allow JCPS to identify 2,000 students whose transportation times can be shortened, said Jack Jacobs, JCPS student assignment lead.
“We would identify these particular kids and if a student and a family would like to be closer to home and it doesn’t negatively affect the diversity index then we would counsel with that family and work with them,” he said.
JCPS has already identified students who would receive a post card offering the opportunity to attend a school closer to their home pending a school’s capacity, said Jacobs.
If the board approves the plan in January it will “most definitely” give the district enough time to implement the plan next school year, he said.
But the plan “doesn’t have an equal impact for everybody,” said board member Debbie Wesslund who represents an area that has some of the district’s longest transportation times.
“I don’t want it (the plan) to be the final answer,” she said.
JCPS staff recommendations:
- Establish a new diversity guideline based on census block groups for elementary schools
- Include ESL students in an elementary school’s diversity index
- Include kindergarten students in a school’s diversity index, which means they would only have to apply one time. Current kindergarten students will remain at the same school for 1st grade through 5th
- No cluster has a majority of students who live in a Category 1 block group
- Reduced bus times
- Current clusters and boundaries remain the same
- Opportunities for magnet schools remains the same
- No additional buses needed
- Additional grandfathering will not be required