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Neighborhood Schools Bill Introduced Again in Kentucky Senate

For the third year, a neighborhood schools bill has been introduced in the Kentucky state Senate.

Republican Sen. Dan Seum of Louisville introduced Senate Bill 9 Monday, the final day bills were allowed to be submitted to the legislature.

Two other measures have previously won Senate approval but failed in the House. Seum said there’s no strategic reason for waiting to introduce the bill this late in the session and that the issue is not new. Jefferson County students are spending too much time on buses in order to satisfy diversity requirements in the JCPS assignment plan, he said.

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House Budget Includes $7.5 Million Less for Early Childhood Education

Fewer Kentucky children would be eligible for early childhood learning services under the proposed House budget being voted on this week after a subcommittee cut Gov. Steve Beshear’s $15 million allocation in half.

“We have been hearing, as we talk to legislators, that this was going to be very hard in this tight budget time to keep the $15 million in the budget for pre-school,” said Cindy Heine with the Prichard Committee for Educational Excellence.

Any change to Beshear’s proposed $15 million appropriation could cause an imbalance in eligibility requirements.

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Composer Writes Original Piece for JCPS Music Students

Jefferson County Public Schools students will perform an original piece of music from a renowned composer this week.

Music director at the JCPS Youth Performing Art’s School (YPAS) Todd Parker said he reached out to composer David Maslanka last year following a rehearsal of another of his compositions from YPAS students. Maslanka agreed to compose an original percussion piece for school.

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New Chief of Communications, Diversity Rescinds Offer by JCPS

Jefferson County Public Schools’s recently hired Chief of Diversity, Community Relations and Communications has rescinded her acceptance by Superintendent Donna Hargens.

In a letter sent to Hargens, Jamilah Fraser does not give reason for her not accepting the position but says “I wish the best for this community.”

In a statement from JCPS, Hargens said:

“I was confident in my decision to select Fraser for the position. She was a solid candidate that would have served this district well. It’s unfortunate she has turned down the post. I wish her the best.”

Questions about Fraser were raised this week after it was learned that she was the communications officer under a controversial administration in the School District of Philadelphia.  Superintendent Arlene Ackerman often butt heads with teacher’s unions and parents and was leading the district during a cheating scandal.

Hargens said the following in the release:

“Despite these facts, it has been implied that Fraser was involved in some controversial situations in her previous position as Chief Communications Officer for the School District of Philadelphia. During our prior due diligence in looking into her background, we found nothing in our review to diminish our confidence in her ability to serve this district. Fraser was forthcoming and transparent in all matters on multiple occasions.”

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Kentucky Colleges, Universities Sign Consortium Agreement

Reporting by Kentucky Public Radio’s Charles Compton.

A dozen universities and colleges in central and eastern Kentucky have strengthened their partnership this week, which may help students frustrated by a lack of options.

The 12 colleges and universities that have signed the Bluegrass Higher Education Consortium are trying to ease the administrative headaches that come with being a student.

Under the agreement, students will have the opportunity to take certain courses within the consortium and those credits can be applied toward their degree.

The agreement may remove many of the barriers that separate these institutions, said Eastern Kentucky University President Doug Whitlock.

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Hargens’s Central Staff Hires Include Former JCPS Principal

The five new chiefs of the Jefferson County Public Schools central administration will soon begin rebuilding the office. The team includes a former JCPS principal and current No Child Left Behind expert who was named the district’s new Chief Academic Officer.

Superintendent Donna Hargens announced the new hires for four positions this week. The district’s chief financial officer, Cordelia Hardin, was already in place. The announcement comes after audit firm Phi Delta Kappa International recommended the district streamline communication to Hargens through five chief positions.

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Beshear’s Early Childhood Initiatives May Encourage More Partnerships

Education professionals in Louisville say if Gov. Steve Beshear’s early childhood education initiatives are approved, it may drive more collaboration between public and private child care providers.

Beshear has allocated $15 million in his budget to offer early childhood learning to thousands more children who are slightly above the poverty line, but that money can only go to public schools. However, not all public schools offer what parents want for their children.

The Pritchard Committee’s Cindy Heine said Beshear’s proposal is a huge step in the right direction, but eventually she’d like to see legislation requiring public schools to collaborate with other community providers to offer children the best possible options. Some districts like Christian County Public Schools have already begun to form collaborations.

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Gov. Beshear Will Address Education Conference in Louisville

Gov. Steve Beshear will be in Louisville Tuesday to talk with education representatives from over 20 states.

Louisville is hosting a conference on the Common Core State Standards this week. Attendees include higher-education leaders who want to align their college and career readiness standards with those in place at public schools.

Kentucky is one of the only states that has currently implemented the new standards for this school year, said Robyn Oatley, a project manager with the Pritchard Committee for Academic Excellence. 

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Louisville’s Independent St. Francis Schools Merge

Two of Louisville’s independent school systems will merge this summer and school officials say the change will save money and possibly increase enrollment.

St. Francis High School and St. Francis School serve students from preschool through graduation.

Alexandra Thurston is currently head of the high school and has been named head of the new merged system, which becomes official July 1. Both institutions have similar missions, so the curriculum won’t change much, it’ll just include more communication, she said.

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Louisville Hosts College Athlete Compensation Discussion

The President of the National College Players Association Ramogi Huma is using a visit to Louisville to encourage colleges to pay student athletes.

College athletics programs bring in millions of dollars and players’ names and images are sometimes used to sell jerseys and other merchandise. That has some people questioning if a portion of that revenue should be used to pay players.

Huma said the issue should be a state-level decision and he’s begun a campaign to promote legislation that calls for student athlete pay.