Local News

JCPS Board Expects Student Assignment Vote Monday

The Jefferson County Board of Education is expected to vote on changes to its student assignment plan Monday night. If the changes are approved, they will affect an estimated 2,000 kindergarten students next school year.

The board postponed the vote last month, but JCPS staff said it must act in time for the elementary school showcase at the end of this month.

Local News

JCPS Board Hears Student Assignment Recommendations

The UCLA professor and contracted expert on student assignment said it’s possible for Jefferson County Public Schools to create diverse schools with less transportation by next fall.

“Well I think the longest ride times would be less than half the longest ride times now. That’s my guess,” Dr. Gary Orfield told the JCPS school board.

Orfield was contracted last year by JCPS to give recommendations on its student assignment plan. His job was to address concerns regarding the plan and to consider more recent data in the district. The long-awaited recommendations include improving technology while cutting transportation times and encouraging city government help, according to the report released at Monday’s school board meeting. The plan could be implemented as soon as next school year and some neighborhoods could even be considered for exemption from student assignment in 2013, said Orfield.

The plan would begin by removing the district’s six A-B clusters defined by race, income and education levels and it would create 13 more organized and equally diverse clusters based on similar information, but according to recent census data.

Although around 40 percent of JCPS schools are not in compliance with the current student assignment plan, the new plan showcases the district’s current diversity according to more recent data, said Orfield.

“The county, when we looked at it, wasn’t a layer cake. It was a marble cake, with lots of different kinds of neighborhoods, especially in the middle of the county that are close to each other but that are different that could easily be part of relatively small clusters, that would integrate everybody at very short transportation times,” he said.

Orfield’s plan recommends consideration of removing certain neighborhoods that are stably integrated from having to comply with student assignment, which could begin in fall 2013. Rewarding schools for being stably integrated was around in earlier JCPS policies, said Orfield.

The plan leaves out middle and high schools but says kindergarten should be considered for inclusion. Orfield’s plan goes further to recommend the district ask housing agencies and Metro Government for help in creating stably diverse neighborhoods.

Other items in the plan include yearly reports and enhanced technological communications between JCPS and parents.

There will be four public meetings regarding the report beginning in October, said JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens. That should be plenty of time to implement the plan by next school year if it chooses, said Orfield.

Hargens will have to introduce any plan as a recommendation to the school board for the plan to be considered, said JCPS officials.

The report was co-authored by Dr. Erika Frankenberg.

Click here to see a copy of the report.

Click here to watch Orfield’s presentation of the report.

Local News

JCPS Board Expected to Hear Student Assignment Recommendations

The long-awaited California expert on student assignment is giving his recommendations to the Jefferson County School Board on Monday night, and neither the public nor the board knows what he might say.

Dr. Gary Orfield is a professor at UCLA and was previously contracted by JCPS before to give recommendations on student assignment. Student assignment has been a controversial topic in Jefferson County for years and Superintendent Donna Hargens has remained quiet on the issue since taking her position this year. She now waits, with the rest of the district, for Orfield’s recommendations.

“His recommendations will be received,” said Steve Imhoff, chair of the Jefferson County School Board. “We’re not voting on anything. We will then have meetings in the community, sessions in the community, get feedback from people in the community sometime in the next two or three weeks after that,” he said.

The board has delayed implementation of middle and high school assignment plans because of concerns about transportation and other issues. This visit is also weighted with JCPS’s recent appearance in the state’s Court of Appeals, where its student assignment plan was questioned.

Imhoff said JCPS cannot predict any timeframe for actions taken by the board regarding Orfield’s recommendations.

“What will drive the entire time frame is what he tells us on Monday. It may be if we make changes we can do them the following year it may that we won’t be able to because of any changes we may make but right now we don’t know what is even suggested,” he said.

It may still be a couple months until the board makes any decisions, said Imhoff. He expects JCPS to hear public comment on the recommendations in the weeks that follow, he said.