District Boundaries

Dear JCPS,

My name is A.B. and I am a freshman at Doss High school. I am writing this letter to tell you my view on busing. I think that we should keep busing, because it has many up-sides. Also there are ways we can fix the situation to improve academics.

One of the biggest problems with busing is the long rides. Many students are on the bus for about 1-2 hour a day. I know this because I am one of those students. Do I think it is a long ride? Yes but, it doesn’t mess with any of my after school activities or academics. Busing also mess with the amount of each race there is at a school, but some areas are going to be majority one race no matter what because of the neighborhoods. Stopping busing won’t fix this problem.

If we keep busing, it eliminates racism and students get a better education. The fact that students are coming from completely different areas means that they are more likely to come from completely different backgrounds. It also gives students opportunities to go to school in an area with more money than the neighborhood they live in. The purpose of busing is to desegregate schools. Desegregate means to eliminate segregation which would bring race closer. Bringing different races together is especially important in this day and age with the new president.

We need to keep busing for many reasons. One being it helps desegregate. Another is the opportunities it gives students. Also it helps improve academics. There are many cons but the pros outweigh them.

Doss High Student,
A.B.

Dear JCPS,

I’m a student at Doss High and I think that busing is a good idea for JCPS students. This is because it gives some students a chance to see what they haven’t seen or experienced before. I think that there are some things about it that kind of makes people rethink because of the long bus ride from home to school, but other than that, there are great advantages.

For schools, it would do a lot. It would raise the schools test scores like ACT and SAT tests to let parents think about sending their child to the school. Either resides or school of choice, it will be a good reflection. Busing would also balance out the race in the school because there are people coming from all parts of Louisville to go to a school. This will make it a nicer environment for all students to see other races they probably haven’t seen or been around that much before. This also makes parents think about how open that school is so there isn’t any racism going on or kids being mean to each other about their race.

Another advantage is that it gives students more of an opportunity to be in other programs that other schools might not have. Like our school has the Class Act Credit Union, there aren’t that many schools with that, so kids can learn about how to take care of money and prepare for the future. The programs are either to have something to do, or prepare for the future. Nursing programs aren’t in some schools, but if kids are being bused to other schools, they have a chance at it. The other schools that kids are being bused too might have more money and more updated things like computers, etc. This can make students want to learn a lot more if they have something that they’re used to, or new to. This might also want kids to think about college because if you’re in a nursing program, this can make kids want to go to medical school, or make up their mind about what they want to do and experience things earlier.

So, if you left the busing where it is, then the students would have a better opportunity to see the things that they have never experienced before and can benefit them for the future. This will also let them go to a school with more money and more programs that could help with their future. It would help the school by raising test scores and racism would not be around in the school, this would make it nicer and help people get along better. The students would also have more experience in computers and other things. That’s why I think busing would be successful for JCPS.

Sincerely,
M.E.

Dear JCPS,

Hey! My name is K.M. and I am a 14 year old Doss High School student. I want to talk to you about JCPS busing. I’m not for busing because nobody wants their kids on an hour bus ride. Like for example racial integration is worthy goal, and busing is an easy mean to achieving that goal. Children in higher socioeconomic areas naturally have more opportunities than children who do not. Putting children in schools that’s in their neighborhood is not a good idea, some neighborhoods is mostly blacks and others is mostly white and putting them all in one school is going to cause segregation.

Far away schools is not working for the parents is either, parents cannot be involved in school if it is too far from their home. Parents are forced to send their kids far away from home for a good education.

Busing was started in the 1970’s to ensure that schools were not all black or all white. African American’s lived in the west end, while whites lived in areas like St. Matthews or the country. The whites would have a long ride to and from school every day like an hour or 2 ride. The west end kids would go to school far from where they live to, like some might go to school far like Seneca.

Busing causes white flight where families move their children from public city schools to private and suburban institutions. They put all whites inside the same school that causes more and more fights same with African American’s it’s going to cause more and more fights.

It also gives students the opportunities to go to schools in areas with more money. On the other hand busing too costly for school districts that must purchase the buses to establish the program. Example staying after school and buses have to take you home and you live far away that is going to cost a lot of money.

Sincerely, KM

Dear JCPS,

I’m L’R B and I attend Doss High School. My opinion on busing is that it should continue. I bring this up because my Civics class gave me a task to write a letter to JCPS arguing for or against busing using the evidence I found from my research. I think busing should continue because it helps racial integration, it gives students opportunities to go to schools in areas with a better environment, and it eliminates racism. I will come up with a better student plan to help busing continue.

Busing brings great experience to lots of students. You meet people of all kinds teaching you that a difference in race doesn’t matter. Also busing shows a student in a poor environment a look at how it is to live well. Students from different races get to learn from each other. It brings everyone together.
If I could solve the problems people have with busing I would change a lot. First thing I would do would be change the school time to later hour so students have more time to be picked up. I would also add community schools for parents who want their children close. Students who have trouble getting along, I would have a counseling for them to get better. If the student likes the counseling I would continue, if not ill switch their school.

Overall there’s a lot of good things busing allows us to do. I’ll say the bad opinions against busing aren’t good enough to stop it. Busing is wonderful for everyone and lots of people enjoy it, let’s not repeat history by basically segregating schools. I hope this letter gives you a view on how some students feel.

Thank you,
L’R B

Magnet “programs” will not be protected under this new law. Many families will lose out on choice.

Be sure to see where your board members stood on this discussion prior to the unanimous vote to support local control over student assignment (opposition to HB151).

Read Chris Kolb’s full speech here.

Chris Kolb speaks on the detrimental impacts of HB151 (16:00 mark).

Remarks on HB151
Dr. Chris Kolb
JCPS Board of Education Special Called Meeting
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I’d like to share an email I got from one of my constituents this morning.

One of the reasons my family returned to Louisville to raise our children is JCPS’s vibrant system of magnet programs. My daughter’s middle school will prepare her for wherever she wants to go next—she’ll have the academic preparation if she wants to focus on language at Atherton’s IB program, she’ll have arts experience if she wants to pursue art at YPAS or Manual; if she’s interested in learning more about law and politics, Seneca, with its legal work magnet, is her resides school. What a great selection we have! Thanks to JCPS our city is full of people who want to venture into new-to-us areas. My children go to school with kids who have similar life experiences and kids who don’t. Thanks to JCPS families have been allowed to choose the educational approaches that will best help them succeed. Please don’t allow Frankfort’s legislators limit my kids’ friendships to those we already have met. Don’t send us back to our isolated islands, segregated again.

Thirty-eight days before I was born, white pro-segregation rioters in Louisville burned school buses, threw rocks, and attacked police. The Ku Klux Klan organized and led several such riots in Louisville, all in the name of “neighborhood schools.” Many in the all-white crowds held Confederate flags while they threatened, harassed, and assaulted black children.

But our city persisted, led by the courage of African American parents and children. And thanks to their sacrifices, I was able to attend high-quality, integrated public schools in Louisville, as have my children. Thanks to their bravery, I have lifelong friendships with people from all over the city I never would have met. I am extremely grateful for their sacrifice and struggle.

But now we are facing the very real possibility that the hard-won progress of the last 42 years will be undone through government overreach into local affairs by state legislators, the overwhelming majority of whom do not live in our community.

House Bill 151 threatens a core principle of our democracy: local control of our school system. It’s curious that many of the lawmakers who just spent eight years consistently complaining about what they perceived to be federal overreach of the Obama Administration are now some of the most vocal supporters of state overreach into local issues.

The voters of Jefferson County elected the seven of us you see before you. I would ask our state legislators to remember that seven of the fourteen candidates for the JCPS Board of Education in 2012 ran on a platform of “neighborhood schools.” They were all defeated, most of them handily. The voters and families of Jefferson County have spoken on this issue time and time again and the state should respect the democratic will of Jefferson County voters. It is simply not acceptable for state legislators with little or no experience in Jefferson County to undermine the democratic will of Jefferson County voters in dictating where our kids can and can’t go to school.

In addition, there are several reasons why HB151 will have significant negative impacts on our families. It will lead to less choice, less predictability, less equity, and wider achievement gaps. These are not debatable points. This is what data, evidence, and logic tell us will happen.

But on top of all that, HB151 will not even accomplish what it sets out to do. For instance, if HB151 is implemented, the closest school with guaranteed openings for some students who currently attend Shawnee will be Waggener. Instead of a 1.9 mile walk or a 19-minute bus ride to Shawnee to participate in after-school activities, these students will endure an hour and a half ride on two different TARC buses to do so. While Waggener is over eight times farther away than Shawnee, Waggener will be the closest “neighborhood school” for many kids.

Families who live as little as 0.8 miles away from King Elementary will not be guaranteed admittance, nor will families living 0.73 miles from the Academy at Shawnee, 0.9 miles from Frayser, 0.84 miles from Rutherford, or 2.6 miles from Carrithers. And these boundaries will change every… single… year. The only way to guarantee you will get into your neighborhood school is to move, literally, across the street from it. On top of the dozens of other reasons HB151 is unwise, HB151 is not even a neighborhood schools bill.

In closing, I want to share something from an article in the Atlantic magazine in 2015 comparing Louisville to Detroit. In 1974, Detroit largely abandoned school desegregation efforts.

By 2000, … the average black Detroit student went to school with less than two percent white students, while in Louisville, the average black student went to a school that was half white. In 2011, 62 percent of Louisville fourth-grade students scored at or above basic levels for math; only 31 percent of Detroit students did.

As researcher Gary Orfield states,

Go to Louisville, go to Detroit they’re just different planets today. … These are places that had the same percentage of black people, they had the same percentage of poor people, they were almost identical, racially and socially. And Louisville is thriving. And Detroit’s collapsed.

HB151 is a threat to local democracy, to school choice, to student achievement, to a more integrated community, and to the economic livelihood and the very future of our city itself. Decisions with this level of impact on our community must be left to the people who actually live here, pay taxes here, and who vote for School Board here.

Thank you.

Dear JCPS,

Regarding this busing thing. Someone said “let the black kids go to school in the black neighborhood.” That is the problem. White officials closed 3/4’s of the schools in our area like years ago. Boarded them up or made apartments out of them so white kids did not get bused to our area. Started zero tolerance, physically and mentally abusing black kids, then throwing them in alternative placement to get them out of their school.

Now you say, “go to school in your own area?” There are only two high schools in the West End, and all the black high school kids can not squeeze in those two schools. They’re building new schools in other areas, so yes, white kids will go to school in their area, but not blacks. They are not investing in the black kids or the black area. So saying “go to school in your own area” is a very, very racist move. And not even realistic unless more public schools are built in our areas.

Concerned JCPS Parent & West End Resident

This email was sent to Kentucky Board of Education Members. Their email addresses are:

grboyd@bigsandybb.com,
cundifffarms1979@gmail.com,
RFGimmel@atlasmachine.com,
sdhiv1234@gmail.com,
gary.houchens@wku.edu,
alesag.johnson@gmail.com,
Robert.King@ky.gov,
rlmarcum22@gmail.com,
nawannap@aol.com,
ceemore1@gmail.com,
wtwyman@scrtc.com,
marygwenw@cflouisville.org

Dear KBE Members,

As a parent of a recent JCPS graduate from one of our district’s Cohort 1 “priority” schools, I implore you to exercise extreme caution when vote tomorrow to recommend charter schools, and if you do decide to do so, be equally judicious with which elements you can support.

One of the things that makes Kentucky schools special is its emphasis on local control, as exemplified in the innovative decision under KERA to provide SBDM power to local schools. However, the conversation revolving around helping these high poverty gap students via way of charters is invalid if you take into account that my son’s priority school lost its SBDM powers 5 years ago when it entered into priority status.

Another thing that no one seems to be able to genuinely answer is how “school choice” will solve our problems in closing achievement gaps. JCPS is already a district of choice. This choice, combined with overemphasis on high stakes test scores, has been devastating to our students in poverty, who don’t have the same abilities to navigate the system and overcome the hurdles we put in front of them. Our student assignment map that discriminates against our most vulnerable citizens is just one of many examples. There is no sense of community behind my son’s school because they backfill the students who attend there from other communities. Perhaps you should know more about hurdles like these before we assume that they just need MORE choices. Competition has not been proven to improve outcomes in Jefferson County. We need more reasons to work collaboratively instead. Let’s work to make our existing schools better before we throw more variability and competition into the mix.

Speaking of local control, our local school board is should have the final say as to which charters will be permitted in our community. They are democratically elected and have the ability to garner feedback from their constituents about the proposed schools and whether or not the charter proposals and the underlying assumptions, hold water when it comes to how they will address the needs of the students in our community.

Perhaps instead of looking at charters as a solution for persistently low achieving schools, we should look at ways to remove some of the handcuffs we’ve placed upon them. I’m happy to share a litany of these items, should you be interested, in addition to a few I hinted at above. No, these problems are not solved by simply introducing charters as a way of “working around” the system. When we have a leaky house, we must fix the roof, not build a new house down the street.

Furthermore, should charter schools move forward, I would like to reiterate the following provisions that should be a requirement in any charter school legislation in the state of Kentucky:

• SBDMs need to be in every publicly funded school, both public and charter (especially priority schools!)

• The local school board, which is democratically elected by the community it serves, should serve as authorizers

• Non profit. Truly non profit not an arm of for profit company
Should not take tax dollars from existing schools. (Since this year is not a budget year, making funding a sticking point could buy us time.)

• Not closing schools just because they are low performing. Need latitude to serve special needs, at risk, etc without being held to same standards as a school like Manual.

• Remove the unhealthy fixation we have on high stakes testing for all schools, public and charter, but finding less intrusive accountability measures, such as sampling and dashboards, and even self reporting of portfolios of accomplishments

• Schools must be open to all, and should not have ability to refuse applicants or weed out. Barriers to entry already create self selection bias. How will that be eliminated?

• Must provide transportation and free and reduced lunch the same way public schools do.

• No use of public funds for religious schools. (No vouchers for St X, for example.)

• Accountability and transparency is a must. Open board meetings, open records, published minutes, budgets and salaries of all employees, contractors and operators

• There needs to be a minimum enrollment in a charter before it can be funded, demonstrating community need and support.

• There should be a limit to the number of new charter schools opened per year.

• There should be safeguards in place to prevent taking resources from public schools to fund the charters. One of the reasons public schools are currently failing is due to lack of supports and resources. Stripping away funding, or even “high performing” students, or highly involved families, from the mix, creates even greater burdens and hardships on the schools that stay.

• There needs to be equitable access to quality schools in every neighborhood. Closing low performing schools is not an option if there are no other schools in the vicinity.

• We need to treat our teachers with respect and support if we wish to attract quality educators. The idea that we can work them more hours for less money is going in the wrong direction and will see less than qualified individuals with higher turnover than we are currently experiencing in public schools. This is a fallacy with no evidence to support it.

• JCPS is already district of choice. You must demonstrate, without a doubt , not just from selective evidence, that “school choice” does more to fix existing problems. Proponents must provide conclusive evidence before we move forward with implementing a solution that doesn’t fix an existing problem, but only layers on more complexities.
This is a quick list I threw together in the hopes that you will have a chance to review it before you vote tomorrow.

I found the presentations at the work session last week to be one sided. They did not provide an opportunity to cross-examine the evidence by those of us who represent the more cautious approach to charter school implementation. What were the unique qualities of each of the success stories and what made them a success? What specific laws did they implement, which we could we emulate, to make sure we have the same successes? Claims that Nashville was a success story was quickly discredited by Tweets from school board members in Nashville. Arguments that charters serve gap students in urban areas has been disproven time and again by other research groups. Parents, teachers, community leaders, including NAACP, have made it clear that charters are doing more harm than good in many of the communities all over the country where they have entered. THESE VOICES CANNOT BE DENIED! Perhaps it is due to one or two factors that good legislation can and will prevent, but the information presented to the board at the work session was unclear what those specific items are, and therefore you do not have conclusive enough evidence at this time to justify forcing us to implement unproven charter schools in our major cities. WE DON’T WANT THEM! No one has been able to demonstrate to me that any version of charter schools will magically address the needs of the students attending my son’s school and schools like them. Since they represent our district’s most vulnerable, don’t we really need to come up with the best plan for them, regardless if it’s introducing charters or fixing existing schools, before we move forward with any plan?

Please help those who are doing the work at the ground level dig into the ways we can stop failing our most vulnerable students in the Commonwealth BEFORE moving forward with some fancy new idea, which will only create a distraction and drain on resources and energy. I look forward to continuing the conversation. We have work to do.

Gay Adelmann

This is an email that was sent by an Academy @ Shawnee Sophomore to Dr. Hargens on Sunday, Nov. 27. She asked that Dear JCPS publish it our our open letter forum.

Dear Dr. Hargens,jessica

I wanted to follow up with you in regards to my speech that I gave at the JCPS Board meeting on November, 15th. On your way out the door when my mother mentioned a possible follow up email being sent about #BringBacktheColonel your response was “think about the programs as a whole, not just one person.” So, I went home and read again the letter that was sent home by Ms. Benboe on November 9th, explaining the personnel changes that happened at my school, the Academy@Shawnee, over a 4 day break for the students. What I noticed was the statement about the magnet programs. The following was taken directly from the letter:

FINALLY, OUR MAGNET PROGRAMS HAVE NOT CHANGED; STUDENTS WILL CONTINUE TO RECEIVE SUPPORT AND RESOURCES FOR ALL OF OUR CURRENT MAGNET PROGRAMS.

When Ms. Benboe and the District transfers the magnet coordinator, Col. William Vander Meer with no plans to replace him, then to say that the magnet programs will not change is a contradiction. The programs changed at 2:30 in the afternoon on Nov. 4 when the Colonel was told that he was being transferred to Central High School, effective immediately. We, the students, will not continue to receive ALL the support and resources that were available to us with the Colonel gone. I’ll share with you an example about the aviation program. On November 5th, the day after his transfer, there were about 15 Shawnee Middle and High school students that were to meet him at Hanger 7 at Bowman Field, to take plane rides. Only because he holds a seat on the Board of Directors for Hanger 7, were those students, myself included, still able to go on the plane rides. I actually got to fly a plane and logged air time for the first time that morning. Those types of outings and programs were the direct result from the Colonels passion for the kids, for learning and for the excitement of aviation.

Another example that maybe you are not aware of, is a new program with UPS, which the Colonel was able to arrange for our school. The freshman this year will be paired up with UPS pilots. The pilots will follow and mentor, one on one, the students for their entire 4 years in high school. What an opportunity. Once again it was because of the Colonel’s connections with the community and his drive for the success of the Academy@Shawnee.

I could you give example after example, if you care to listen, of how the Colonel’s 19 years of experience and his community connections promotes all of the students attending the Academy@Shawnee’s Middle and High Schools. He was one of a few administration personal that was bridging the Middle school to the High school.

However, I would like to share with you how I felt when I was attending the Board meeting that night. During the first part of the meeting when schools were getting recognized, I was sitting in the audience getting frustrated, hurt and then angry. All of these schools were talking about teacher relationships with their students and how awesome of an experience that is. Our school has teachers leaving to go to different school to teach every single day. So, to have the few remaining in our building meant the world to me and to the other 150 children that signed our petition. The swift and quiet transfer of the Colonel just feels like a punishment. A punishment in which our school does not deserve. I have already had the experience earlier this year of a teacher being fired by the District and then just 6 days later she was reinstated by the District to her teaching position. So, that is why I am asking you again: Dr. Hargens, will you please transfer Col. William VanderMeer back to the Academy@Shawnee?

Regards,
Jessica Bennett

Dear JCPS is in the process of aggregating responses from school board candidates as they respond to various groups in the district, as well as endorsements they receive. We will continue to add them here as they are brought to our attention. Be sure to check back after the candidates school board forum hosted by the 15th District PTA on Wednesday for a link to that video, as well. Our questionnaires and formal endorsements will be forthcoming. If you have a question you would like school board members to answer that you do not see on these sites, please email them to moderator@dearjcps.com.


Below are candidates for the upcoming school board elections, and links to their websites.

District 2
David Jones Jr. – Incumbent
James Fletcher
Chris Kolb

District 4
Benjamin Gies
Keisha Allen

District 7
Chris Brady – Incumbent
James Sexton
Scott Majors
Fritz Hollenbach


Below are organizations who have received responses from candidates:

FOR’s Aim Higher subcommittee advocates in Jefferson County Public Schools for improved outcomes for low-income students, immigrants, students of color and other marginalized students. As part of that work, we asked this year’s candidates in the three school board district races about their positions on important issues of policy and use of JCPS’ human and financial resources. Six of the nine candidates responded.
 

Go to https://louisvillefor.org/school-board-candidate-responses/  to find the 13 questions, background facts, the candidates’ responses, and what school district you live in.


For the last two election cycles, GLI and the Business Leaders for Education (BLE) have collected and shared information on candidates with our members and whoever wishes to access this information on our website. We believe this is a very important race and that it is critical that voters know the stances of all potential school board members. 

While GLI is active in public policy and in education, we do not endorse candidates. We have posted candidates responses verbatim here and encourage our members and community members to read them. 

A map detailing Jefferson County’s school board districts can be found by clicking here.

GLI 2016 JCPS School Board Elections


From JCTA’s Website


Endorsements from some groups, such as Bluegrass Institute, cause concern:

Two years ago, this story from WDRB, revealed that corporate interests may be driving some endorsements, and Dear JCPS encourages proceeding with caution when considering these endorsements.  So far, they have backed David Jones and Fritz Hollenbach. This is a red flag to our group.

If your organization has endorsements or candidate questionnaire responses you would like to see added to this page, please send an email to moderator@dearjcps.com.